Verizon expanding Skype beyond smartphones

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is broadening the reach of its Skype Mobile application beyond smartphones, and plans to make the Internet calling application available on more phones later this year.

verizon skype beyond smartphonesTo date the free Verizon/Skype app has been available only to users of Android smartphones or BlackBerry devices from Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM). The app, currently available on 12 devices, will be made available on more handsets, including the carrier's 3G multimedia phones. Verizon spokeswoman Debi Lewis told FierceWireless that the app will launch on more handsets "hopefully over the next couple of months," and noted the carrier has seen a positive reaction to the app so far.

In addition to the expanded handset lineup, Verizon is going to make the app available in Spanish, Korean and simple Chinese. The app also is going to get a refreshed interface, with a drop-down menu and flags for international dialing.

Verizon routes every Skype Mobile call over its existing, circuit-switched network, rather than delivering VoIP over its EV-DO network. Skype Mobile calls go to a Skype gateway upon exiting the Verizon network. Thus, the app does not enable voice-over-WiFi calls from WiFi-equipped Verizon smartphones. Verizon announced its deal with Skype at the Mobile World Congress trade show earlier this year, and launched the app in March.

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