U.K.'s 3 and Skype introduce 3 Skypephone

As expected, 3 Group in the U.K. and Skype introduced an inexpensive, co-branded VoIP device called 3 Skypephone. 3 has already been offering Skype service through its X-series mobile Internet services. The new device uses Qualcomm's BREW platform and comes pre-loaded with the Skype application to make Skype calls as straightforward as possible for users. According to analyst Ben Wood with CCS Insight, said the quality of the VoIP calls are surprisingly good--a key factor for any mobile operator even considering mobile VoIP. The VoIP session is initiated on 3's network and delivered to a gateway where they connect to the Skype network so the calls don't travel over the Internet end-to-end.

The phone costs $103 with a prepaid plan when users spend at least $21 per month and is free for contract customers. Skype-to-skype calls and instant messages are free. The 3 Skypephone will become available in 3's markets in the U.K., Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Macao, and Sweden. Skype wants to offer it to other carriers. Will they be interested? And does this change the handset game?

For more about the 3 Skypephone:
- read this article from Unstrung

Related article:
3 Mobile and Skype collaborate on VoIP phone