Skype and 3 unveil mobile handset
Mobile operator 3 and VoiP firm Skype are set to release the Skypephone on Friday.
The 50 handset can be used to make conventional calls or call other Skype users and exchange instant messages. However, unlike the traditional Skype service, the Skypephone does not allow users to make cheap global calls to other phone numbers.
In order to qualify for Skype calls, customers will need to top up their account with at least 10 each month, or be on a contract.
The companies claim that this is the first time an operator has offered a mass market handset capable of making free calls over the internet.
"It takes an innovative operator like 3 to challenge traditional thinking and offer the kind of product other operators are still shying away from," said Michael van Swaaij, acting chief executive at Skype.
"3 wants to make the mobile internet available to everyone," added Kevin Russell, chief executive of 3 UK. "To do this, we believe that services need to be simple to access and affordable. Mobile has the potential to massively increase access to internet calling."
The 3 Skypephone will be available from 2 November. Users without Skype accounts will be able to create one through their mobile phones, according to the companies.
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