Despite analysts forecasting that 3UK's deal to offer free Skype-to-Skype calls would cannibalise its voice revenues, the operator is claiming it has resulted in a huge uplift in earnings.
The UK's smallest operator claims that, since signing the deal with Skype 12 months ago, it has seen reduced churn, attracted new subscribers and driven up revenues.
Research by CCS Insight indicated that nearly 80 per cent of 3UK's Skype users were new to the company, and that users of the mobile VoIP service delivered 20 per cent higher revenues and a 14 per cent lower churn rate than its non-Skype users.
Commenting on this data, Skype's market development director EMEA, Enrico Noseda, said: "Our deal with 3UK has been extremely successful. There is great satisfaction on both sides."
Noseda added that this research information challenged the commonly-held view that Skype users were looking to save rather than spend. "This is evidence that Skype is an opportunity rather than a threat to carriers. Skype users are clearly much more active communicators than non-Skype users. These results show Skype is a good driver of acquisitions--we drive more revenue and higher loyalty."
While this might encourage other UK operators to look afresh at adopting Skype, Noseda said it was unlikely he would agree to a deal with another operator in the UK. "I am not sure we would go ahead with different players in one country."
However, Noseda revealed that Skype-to-Skype calls on 3G would be charged starting next year, a move that has triggered a flood of complaints from annoyed customers accusing the company of breaking its pledge of 'free Skype-to-Skype calls forever'.
3UK has also confirmed that it would not offer free Skype and Windows Live Messenger on the new iPhone, something that it had historically offered to compatible handsets.
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