Last month T-Mobile USA indicated it would unveil dual-mode handsets that will make use of UMA technology for fixed-mobile convergence in the near future, and today T-Mobile U.K. has become the first major carrier to enable its subscribers to use a wVoIP service (in this case, Skype) over its data network. It looks like Deutsche Telekom's mobile units are leading the pack in wireless VoIP initiatives, which as everyone knows is a favorite topic for us at Fierce. Some industry analysts hold that as voice becomes commoditized, carriers will switch over to a wVoIP business model, which generally brings great cost savings to the subscriber.
Of course, to save that money by using wVoIP, T-Mobile U.K. subscribers need to spend a lot: First they have to buy the MDA Vario II (£39.99), which boasts Internet speeds four times faster than current 3G handsets, sign up for the Flext 35 package (£30 a month) and then pay more (£22.50 a month) for T-Mobile's Web n' Walk Max package, which allows you to download software like Skype Mobile to get those cost savings. I'm sure this scheme will save some heavy, heavy talkers a few dimes but it looks cost prohibitive to your average user. While some in the U.S. and elsewhere already use mobile data networks to access Skype Mobile, the major carriers' user agreement contracts strictly prohibit it across the board.
For more on T-Mobile U.K. encouraging wVoIP:
- see this article from the Sunday Times