3 launches new Skype mobile phone

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Mobile phone provider 3 has launched a new handset that will allow users to make free calls over the internet via telephony service Skype.
 
Users will also be able to use Skype’s instant messaging service, 3 said. But while people using Skype on their computers are able to make cheap global calls to any phone number, this will not be possible via the new 3 handset.
 
Skype has about 246 million registered users worldwide and is one of the firms reshaping the global phone industry.
To date, mobile phone companies have been unwilling to let users freely access Skype via their handsets for fear that it would hurt their business. While it is possible to access Skype from a number of handsets, this has involved downloading third-party software, something that has put off the majority of users.
 
The Skype-phone will be the first instance of a phone operator launching a mass market device that is designed to allow free calling over the internet from a mobile, 3 said. “It takes an innovative operator… to challenge traditional thinking and offer the kind of product other operators are still shying away from,” said Skype’s acting chief executive, Michael van Swaaij. “It’s is now truly mobile. Skype has now taken a giant step forward in the mobile arena.”
 
And chief executive of 3 UK, Kevin Russell, said the firm wanted to make mobile internet more accessible.“Services need to be simple to access and affordable,” he said. “Mobile has the potential to massively increase access to internet calling.”
The service, launching on 2 November, will be accessed by a button on the handset. As well as the UK, the 3 Skype-phone will be launched in countries including Australia, Denmark, Italy and Hong Kong. Pay as you go customers will have to top up their account with at least £10 each month to qualify for the free Skype-to-Skype calls, 3 said.
 

Skype issues apology for ‘outage’

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Net phone firm Skype says its service is up and running again after three days of “unprecedented” disruption.
 
The problems with the service began on 16 August and stopped millions of people logging in and making calls. Skype said the ongoing disruption was caused by an unexpected interaction between its servers and users’ PCs.
 
Despite Skype’s claim to have fixed the problems some subscribers reported that they had trouble making calls throughout the weekend.
In a statement posted on its website, Skype said the widespread outage began after subscribers’ computers around the world re-started following a security software upgrade issued by Microsoft.
 
The knock-on effect was that an unusually high number of people tried to log on to the system at once and the Skype network could not cope. To make matters worse, the scale of the failure exposed a previously unknown bug in the algorithm that should have helped the Skype network recover quickly.
 
The statement said: “as a result of this disruption, Skype was unavailable to the majority of its users for approximately two days.” It added: “…we’d like to apologise and thank you. Precisely in that order.”
 
The company categorically denied that any malicious elements were behind the prolonged disruption. Exact numbers of Skype users are hard to come by but the company claims that its software has been downloaded about 200 million times and it is thought about 50 million people regularly use it.
 
Sites and blogs that watch Skype reported problems in many different countries including the US, Canada, Brazil, Germany and Finland. Although Skype said the service was back to normal for the majority of its users, over the weekend of 18-19 August many subscribers said they were still having problems.
 
Some said calls cut out unexpectedly and others struggled to get it working. Many bloggers inconvenienced by the outage wondered if Skype was planning to refund them for all the calls they had to re-direct to other, usually more expensive, phone numbers during the period of disruption.