updated 06:30 pm EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
Carrier to begin trials of Skype-like service soon
UK carrier O2 today announced it plans to trial a VoIP service for its mobile phone customers. Called O2 Connect, the Skype-like service will allow smartphone users to use voice and text services over a Wi-Fi network from their mobile device, and call or send a message to any UK mobile or landline number. The app initially will be available on iOS devices and Android smartphones.
The by-invitation-only trial will start sometime this month. It will include both O2 consumer and business customers. Through the trial, O2 hopes to assess how best to roll out the service to a broader audience, as well as help develop new features. The trial will also be extended to attendees at Wired 2011 with a hoped-for full launch in 2012.
The company said that in the commercialized product, some features of the service would be included within existing pricing, while others would be sold as extras. The company believes that, unlike alternative products such as Skype, a user wouldn't need to log in, nor would the call or message recipient be required to have also signed up.
O2 didn't indicate how long the trial would run or when the service might be made available to subscribers with BlackBerry or Windows Phone. [via Reuters]