Just days ago AT&T threw open the doors to Sling Media’s mobile SlingPlayer, bringing Sling Box owners mobile TV anywhere with a strong enough 3G signal (previously users of the $30 app were limited to connecting over WiFi). Yesterday Verizon Wireless announced a ground breaking partnership with Skype, with plans to bring the hugely popular internet calling service to nine of its BlackBerry and Android smartphones.
Could these veritable about faces signal a sweeping change in the wireless industry — the dawn of an age of newfangled openness where carriers step up the competition for subscribers by opening their networks to the very same apps and services that they were seemingly fighting tooth and nail just months before?
Verizon’s partnership with Skype will enable Verizon Wireless subscribers with a supported device and data plan to make and receive unlimited Skype calls as well as send instant messages to other Skype users over Verizon’s 3G network. It will be interesting to see if AT&T will fire another shot in the beginnings of a potential revolution, removing the WiFi-only restriction on the likes of the Skype app on the iPhone.
It remains to be seen how well Skype will play with Verizon. How will call quality be? Will you have to have an app open to receive calls? Will Skype be able to access your device’s phone book?
If the answers to these questions turn out for the better, we may truly be on the brink of something new — with the remainder of the Big 4 lining up to follow suit. Will free internet tethering be next? Don’t count on it.