VoIP pioneer Skype is making more and more noise these days. There was a time recently when the industry was questioning whether Skype’s best days were behind them. There was an even talk that its parent company, eBay, was shopping it for possible sale. Recent news has put the limelight back on Skype. It was recently cited as the largest global long distance provider in the world, meaning it carries more inter-country LD traffic than any other provider. Now comes news that a Skype application for both the iPhone and Blackberry platforms is confirmed. The Skype apps will transmit voice services over WiFi, not over 3G networks.
The wireless application of Skype (and others, including Truphone, Nimbuzz and Google Voice) illustrates the pending impact of IP communications on wireless. Just like it did with wireline telephony, IP voice is about to become a disruptive force with wireless. Voice centric contracts are the revenue ‘bread and butter’ of the wireless industry. Or should we say ‘were.’ Subscribers who move their voice habits to IP applications like Skype obviously impact that reality. So just as we see broadband overtaking voice as the core service for wireline service providers, so too will we see this shift in wireless. In fact, it’s already happening. Wireless providers are emphasizing data usage, and in AT&T’s case with the iPhone, mandating data packages with wireless contracts. As 3G evolves into 4G, wireless will offer more and better broadband connectivity, for which subscribers will access a variety of applications, voice among them. Wireless phones, and their voice legacy, are evolving into wireless Internet devices, where access to broadband is more important than traditional voice service.