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Verizon To Allow Skype Calling On Its Network 98

Posted by kdawson
from the free-as-in-pay-for-a-data-plan dept.
The Verizon press release begins: "At the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon Wireless and Skype today announced a strategic relationship that will bring Skype to Verizon Wireless smartphones in March." What used to be one of the most protective carriers anywhere has been opening up in major ways since the introduction of the Motorola Droid. Phandroid summarizes: "Starting next month, Verizon Smartphone users with data plans will enjoy free and unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls to anyone on the planet. And you’ll enjoy amazingly cheap Skype International calls as well. All this from Verizon Wireless’ 3G network." Some are wondering how the DoJ and law enforcement will react to a major upsurge in fully encrypted traffic.
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Verizon To Allow Skype Calling On Its Network

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  • NSA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by in4mer (181985)

    fully encrypted, hahaha. yeah right.

    • by Cryacin (657549)
      Can you hear me now?!?
      Can you hear me now?!?
      Can you hear me now?!?
    • Re:NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:27PM (#31161274)

      fully encrypted, hahaha. yeah right.

      My thoughts exactly. Nothing gets THAT large without some eyes and ears from our good "friends" in three-letter land...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) *

        What stops anyone from just writing an Android app that is a properly, open sourced, encrypted SIP client? If that's possible, then unless they've broken either Diffe-Hellman or AES then we'd be good to go when talking about our plot to take over the world.

        • I like your cig.

          • by xenn (148389)

            Shameful.

            Call yourself an addict?

            wheres you dedication?

            It's not like a 'cig' is hard to get. It ain't mescaline. It's about as lame as running out of gas on the highway. ...what? you didn't realise your habit required a bit of tenacity?

        • Short answer: Because Skype got there first. Same reason all businesses aren't pure Linux environments right now.

      • Re:NSA (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:49PM (#31162870)

        The NSA uses a program called Trireme that analyze data forwarded to them by Raptor boxes. To achieve throughput they essentially map every IP address into it's own FSA. To achieve the memory/speed footprint they need, it all runs on Itanium servers running 32gb ram. Racks of em. That business about a secret room @att in california: True.

        Now that Skype is firmly under US jurisdiction since eBay purchased them, tapping calls should be no problem. If you need encryption you MUST do it on your own end-to-end

        • Hint: you can't outdo the US government. Your only protection is against them using the information against you in court.
        • by Galestar (1473827)
          That being said, are there any non-US based, encrypted voip clients that will work on smartphones?
    • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:29PM (#31161300)

      This sounds like it's going to be essentially the same service that 3 mobile have been offering in the UK for a few years now. The Skype calls are handled through a gateway at the carrier. Between the carrier and the handset they function the same as a regular voice call (so they're nice and tappable).

    • Skype collaboration (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @07:21PM (#31161896) Homepage

      Specially since Skype are rather open about the fact they are ready to collaborate with governments if legally asked to.

      Once again : the only *true* privacy/security is complete end-to-end (deniable) encryption where the encryption is under the control of the sender and the decryption under that of the receiver, and everything in between only transits in encrypted form.

      Only opensource phones with publicly available and auditable source-code and that use ZRTP do qualify (like currently Twinkle. Probably Ekiga too at some point in future).
      Being closed source and thus not auditable, Skype doesn't qualify as *under control of sender/receiver*, unless the data it self is already encrypted at the time it is fed into Skype.

      (NOTE:
      Off the Record [cypherpunks.ca] plugin + Skype4pidgin [google.com] plugin does exactly that on Pidgin/Adium with text messages : if both ends of a conversation have OtR running, the message will be encrypted before it is transmitted to Skype API - even if there's a backdoor inside Skype the only thing it sees would be already encrypted text. OtR works with other networks, given the proper plugin. But currently can't work with sound/video, because Skype only accept raw media that have to be compressed)

      • by Weezul (52464)

        Nokia's N900 has supposedly the best skype and sip integration of any phone on the market. It's also the most open sourced mass market phone available. How hard would it be to implement these measures on the N900?

        • - Encrypted text chat :
          From what I've heard, the Maemo platform comes with Pidgin out-of-the box. Don't know about the plugins but they won't be difficult to get (specially as Skype4Pidgin is available pre-compiled for ARMs)

          - Encrypted SIP :
          Don't know if Maemo support ZRPT out of the box but wouldn't be surprised.
          (There seem at least efforts trying to port ZPhone)

          - Ecrypted Skype :
          Like on the desktop, Skype on the Maemos is done with a proprietary binary. It can't be trusted it self, and it does the voice c

      • by guruevi (827432)

        Even so, the PRNG on those devices is not random enough (due to processor constraints) and the packages too small, too uniform (it's voice compressed with a very narrow filter) and too many for the encryption not being able to withstand a decent sized computing cluster. Sure the full stream will probably not be decrypted but enough for it to be understandable.

        Encryption is difficult to do. Encryption of full-sentence text (e-mail or chat) would be much safer than voice.

        • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:41AM (#31165434) Homepage Journal

          Even so, the PRNG on those devices is not random enough (due to processor constraints)

          If a device contains a microphone, a radio receiver, probably an SSD, and maybe an accelerometer, and is carried throughout the user's unique physical walk through life, has trouble generating truly random numbers, then something is terribly wrong.

          • In addition to that, lots of modern CPUs have true hardware random number generators.
            (In addition to what you mention, bigger notebook CPUs like VIA's can also use the noise of thermal sensors).

            So, again, sorry no, randomness is not an issue.

    • Given this is the agency that says we need to upgrade our 1024 bit keys because they're not strong enough, I don't think we need to worry about them getting whatever they need no matter what we do.

    • I'd imagine European intelligence agencies have vast access to Skype calls. eBay's ownership might have opened things more for the NSA, but the company remains based in Europe.

      I'd expect the NSA has access when they need it, but maybe that requires European cooperation. If so, I'd say this stands as testament to the decline of American soft power, and the damage that monopolies and copyright law are doing the U.S.'s innovative spirit.

      I'd imagine that Bush's people would be perfectly happy outsourcing Skyp

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:16PM (#31161114) Homepage Journal

    More and more people are purchasing data plans. And it sure seems like every major network is pushing to move as many users to an unlimited plan as possible. Where many people used to have service in the $30-$40 range, more and more people seem to be paying closer to $100 (pre-tax) for cell service.

    Why complain about people using data when data plans are so profitable? And does it matter if they're not using minutes if they pay for an unlimited plan anyway?

    • by MosX (773406)
      How do you know data plans are profitable?
    • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:38PM (#31161426)

      It sure would be nice if you could only buy a data plan. Unfortunately, any I have seen seem to also want you to pay a minimum of $40/month for voice before they will connect you.. And then again, they seem think that SMS messages are neither Voice, nor Data... The only exception have been air-cards for devices, like the MiFi, but they seem to have much more expensive data plans, and don't pretend to call them unlimited.

      • by RDW (41497)

        'It sure would be nice if you could only buy a data plan. Unfortunately, any I have seen seem to also want you to pay a minimum of $40/month for voice before they will connect you.'

        On T-mobile UK, a single payment of 20 GBP gets you 6 months of data on PAYG phones. Of course, if you move here you'll get screwed on price for pretty much everything else that costs money...

      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        And then again, they seem think that SMS messages are neither Voice, nor Data...

        That very simple description sounds like it would make a judge think seriously...

      • It sure would be nice if you could only buy a data plan. Unfortunately, any I have seen seem to also want you to pay a minimum of $40/month for voice before they will connect you.

        iPad plan is $15/month for 256mb (not a lot but enough for most when you consider you'll mostly use WiFi), $30/month for "unlimited" (AKA cell companies idea of unlimited, probably around 5GB).

        That's without any contract. That seems like a good starting point for a home Skype pad.

    • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:55PM (#31161620) Journal

      I would point out that the cost of data plans is gradually decreasing. I've avoided any 'smart' phones up until recently, because I refused to pay $80+ per month. But, I just got a plan with T-Mobile that is about $60/mo (it's actually a little less than that, but what the discount giveth, the taxes taketh away, so it comes to almost $60 exactly), gives me 500 voice minutes, unlimited text, unlimited data.

      My previous voice plan with Verizon, which I had from about 2003 - 2009 was about $45/mo (40 before taxes), gave me 300 minutes, and no text or data. So, I figured, $15/mo, with an extra 200 minutes, plus text and data, isn't too bad.

      Some will say that T-Mo has the worst network of the major carriers. That might be true, I'm not sure. In Ohio, where I live and work, the coverage seems excellent. I don't travel much, but in the little bit of travel I've done in the last 6 months with T-Mo phone service, I had coverage in most places, except for extremely rural areas. In some places, T-Mo gave me free roaming on AT&T's network (West Virginia seems to have absolutely no T-mobile coverage, but the phone used AT&T there).

      It's good enough for me, anyhow. YMMV.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by trapnest (1608791)
        I've been using tmo for years, I've had no problems with them. Far better then dealing with verizon... :\
      • by Tromad (1741656)
        Thanks, I was thinking of moving over to t-mobile for a particular phone but I wasn't sure as their coverage maps are much more limited compared to the competition.
        • by JSBiff (87824)

          Yes, they are, but, what matters is do they get coverage where you need it? I get coverage where I spend 99.99% of my time. Obviously, anyone thinking of switching needs to evaluate if they get coverage where they live and travel to. I think, however, that a lot of people irrationally avoid T-Mo because they look at the map, and because there's a lack of coverage somewhere they never go anyhow, but are afraid they *might* go someday, they decide they must go with Verizon or AT&T.

          I'm positive that if T-M

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hldn (1085833)

      you won't catch me paying that much. i pay $2.50/month for my cellphone and i'm happy with what that buys me.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Where many people used to have service in the $30-$40 range, more and more people seem to be paying closer to $100 (pre-tax) for cell service.

      When was there $30 phone service? I remember entry level 300 minute AT&T clocking in at $40 plus gas food and tolls.

      One big difference between then and now, was that then the phone companies expected you to go over your minutes, and reaped financial profits from those $100 bill months. Now, entry-level phone service includes enough minutes for anyone but teenage

      • These are all US prices. Europe often has vastly cheaper plans.

        I worked at a Radio Shack right out of high school. Selling cell phones was a big focus there. We sold Sprint and Altel primarily. There were $19.99 a month plans with something ridiculous like 60 minutes a month. We sold them to older customers primarily who just wanted a cell phone for emergencies, but didn't plan to use it.

        Then we had plans starting at $29.99 a month for 200 minutes.

        I've never been in a bottom-tier plan myself. It seems like

  • Not so fast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UndyingShadow (867720) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:16PM (#31161124)
    From gizmodo.com: However, it appears the service is pretty gimped as you can't call Skype out to regular lines domestically in order to save minutes. Even on AT&T (of all carriers), the fring iPhone app allows Skype-out calling (even though the Skype app still technically does not). When Verizon allows domestic Skype-out, we'll celebrate in full.
    • by daemonc (145175)

      Gizmodo are idiots. From TFA:
      " call international phone numbers at competitive Skype Out calling rates"

      Perhaps they don't think the US is a nation?

    • by kidgenius (704962)
      Fring is available on verizon phones too and it also supports skypeout. What's your point?
    • Its the FCC that keeps it in business.

      IF we had been given our first amendment right to put Radio Internet Routers on the roof Cellphone time would not be controlled by the people with there hands in our pockets.

      Where do you go that there is not a roof top with in 5 miles. But if all the Radio bandwidth is sold to the "MAN" There is none left for "The People" remember the people?
  • by rwade (131726) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:18PM (#31161152)

    Is translated to "some are wondering"? Seriously, who is Christopher Soghoian and when did he become a bellweather?

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:20PM (#31161184)
    In the US at least CALEA [wikipedia.org] requires carriers to allow lawful intercepts by law enforcement agencies of its phone networks. Skype has avoided running afoul of this since their Skype-Skype calls are really computer communications and not telephone communications. And Skype-out and Skype-in calls could be tapped at the POTS endpoint. But if Skype-Skype calls can be made on phones rather than computers now, then CALEA would probably apply, and Skype would have to modify their protocols to allow access to law enforcement. IANAL, so perhaps some lawyers could provide some insight here.
    • by Lehk228 (705449) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:32PM (#31161334) Journal
      a smart phone is a computer, the skype app is a computer program accessing the internet via a mobile data connection
    • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:59PM (#31161674) Homepage Journal

      But if Skype-Skype calls can be made on phones rather than computers now, then CALEA would probably apply, and Skype would have to modify their protocols to allow access to law enforcement.

      Except that Skype would not be the "telecommunications provider" in this context. Verizon (or other ISPs) would. Thus, Verizon is required to have backdoors to allow third parties to intercept ... *drumroll* ... the ciphertext.

      Don't be a provider. Be a software author. CALEA doesn't say anything about programmers or software vendors. CALEA is about the people in charge of the wires. CALEA is obsolete if people use modern tech.

      OTOH, surely Skype, the company that made a specially-modified government-approved version of their software for use in China, actually would cooperate. And that raises the question: who has audited how Skype does key exchange? Who certifies identities? Skype, that's who.

      The story here is VoIP in general. Skype itself is a specific sideline that will hopefully fade into history.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EdIII (1114411) *

        Exactly. Screw Skype. The big story here *IS* VOIP being allowed through Verizon in such an open manner.

        Personally, I don't care at all about the concerns of government and law enforcement. Ultimately, I think it is far far far far *FAR* worse for citizens to be monitored by their governments/law enforcement agencies than whatever Lions, Tigers, and Bears arguments used to justify such monitoring.

        What I look forward to is when I can run a ZRTP enabled client and establish endpoint-to-endpoint encrypted c

    • by kidgenius (704962)
      Where do you draw the line at phone vs. computer? The phones these days ARE computers. Heck, the Nexus one has a 1Ghz processor in it. My first computer that I bought only had 850mhz, and it was no slouch back at the turn of the century (wow, it's fun to say that :))
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EdIII (1114411) *

        My first computer that I bought only had 850mhz, and it was no slouch back at the turn of the century (wow, it's fun to say that :))

        Your name is 'kid' genius... LOL. Get off my lawn boy!!!

        You do make feel old though, my first system was an 8086 which was only FIVE mhz. I also had an Apple IIe, which was slower if I remember correctly.

        For some of us here on Slashdot the average Netbook/Smartphone seems like a portable freakin' supercomputer compared to what we had even 15 years ago. It's only the bloatware

        • You young whipper snapper with your 8086 and Five MHZ ---

          My first computer was a Texas Instruments TI 99/a 16 bit and THREE Mhz with 16 K of ram. Before that I had a programmable HP calculator - technically a computer which was even less capable.

          You are right - tech today seems like super computers in comparison. Funny though - everything seems to run slower...

  • by goldaryn (834427) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:23PM (#31161222) Homepage

    Some are wondering how the DoJ and law enforcement will react to a major upsurge in fully encrypted traffic.

    Place a large order for Post-it notes [slashdot.org]?

  • CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW???
  • by jim_v2000 (818799)
    So Verizon is allowing me to do something that I could already do? I've had Skype on my Winmo smart-ish phone for awhile.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      The carriers are constantly adding features that you could do on a Windows Phone since 2002. What's new about that? (We could run...APPS then too!)
  • Some are wondering how the DoJ and law enforcement will react to a major upsurge in fully encrypted traffic.

    Why would they care, they have a backdoor into skype.

  • I haven't tried it on my Android yet, but do they make attempts to block those calls?
    • by daemonc (145175) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @07:41PM (#31162150)

      They sure don't.

      I use the awesome Sipdroid app to make and receive all the calls on my Droid over SIP, including to/from landlines.

      Also, you can already Skype from the third party app Fring.

      The point of this announcement is that Skype is promising to make a fully functional app for Blackberries and Androids, and Verizon is promising not to do anything to block it.

  • is that you will need to use a Verizon-supplied (or authorised) client.
    The client will either not use encryption or will have some sort of back door.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @07:19PM (#31161874) Homepage Journal
    If Verizon is now Skype-friendly, then the next thing I want to see is for them to allow Skype calls from their FiOS set-top boxes. These boxes have USB ports and are already connected to the Internet. It would be a great way for Verizon to really stick it to those cable companies (whose anti-FiOS advertising has been getting downright nasty lately) -- imagine being able to just plug a $20 webcam into your set-top box and effortlessly videoconference with Skype users anywhere.

    C'mon Verizon, the infrastructure is already in place ... a few weeks of development and you'd have a killer advantage.
    • by Allicorn (175921)

      Seems a reasonable bet that that sort of thing is on the near horizon. Recall Sony & Skype announcing a couple months ago that whole ranges of new Sony TVs will come equipped with Skype for video calling.

    • by BobPaul (710574) *

      >(whose anti-FiOS advertising has been getting downright nasty lately)

      What's stopping the cable companies from running fiber to the home? I live in a town of not quite 100k and they already ran fiber to all the neighborhood distribution points. We don't have FiOS here, but in places where they do, the cable companies should STFU and run their own fiber to the homes.

      • What's stopping the cable companies from running fiber to the home?

        Nothing at all. In fact, one of the particularly misleading advertisements the cable company here has been using is "Fiber is nothing special, we've been using fiber since 1991." Sure, but that's fiber to the (vastly oversubscribed) node, not fiber to the home. As consumers begin to expect more and more bandwidth, tv channels, and services, the cable company is going to have to keep doing node splits until they eventually find they would

  • and I'm from the future. I've been running Skype for Windows Mobile on my Verizon HTC Touch Pro 2 for several months, now... Call my cell phone, or call my Skype number and the HTC rings.
  • "Some[who?] are wondering..." Would it have killed you to state?

  • Latency (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bevoblake (1106117)
    My 3G cell connection has nasty latency (200ish pings generally) and made for a poor skype experience when tethered to my computer. Delays in voice calls are pretty obnoxious when accustomed to cell and landline connections - I don't see this as a viable competitor to cell minute usage even if Verizon allowed skype over 3G to US landlines.

    Has anyone else had any contrary experience?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bevoblake (1106117)
      As a quick followup, here are some quotes on 3G call quality from the iphone blog [tipb.com]:

      I’ve been using Skype over 3G ever since it came out (first with VoIPover3G, now with 3G Unrestrictor) and I have to say that quality sucks. I get dropped calls, sound dropping in and out, weird noises during the call, etc."

      We have the largest and fastest 3G network in the world here in Australia (44mbps downlink in the cities, 21mbps everywhere else – 99% of the population have 3G), and being a fairly small population – congestion isn’t an issue. VOIP over 3G works, but it totally sux. Like really, unless you can’t afford to make a phone call (unlikely if you have an iPhone) then it’s not worth the mucking about.

      Cellular data connections are very bursty with high amounts of latency. Fine for browsing the web, or streaming media where the player has a buffer, but pretty awful for having a real-time duplex conversation. Which is why I really am ok with just using Skype over wifi.

      A few people post quotes to the effect "quality is so-so but it's good enough for me," but most responses seem pretty negative towards the call quality.

  • by Eil (82413) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:26PM (#31162650) Homepage Journal

    Some are wondering how the DoJ and law enforcement will react to a major upsurge in fully encrypted traffic.

    With glee, probably. Since Skype won't talk about how its protocols and software work, it's entirely possible that they have methods of monitoring all calls made on the network. (In fact, one Austrian official admitted [h-online.com] that they have no problem intercepting Skype communications.) Even if the full encryption spec is published for cryptographic review and is found to be sturdy, the clients are closed-source, meaning they could simply wait for a specific kind of packet and switch the call into an unencrypted or poorly-encrypted mode for easy wiretapping.

  • It is always great to share the innovative ideas with others on our demand.That is the main way for the people to know about the good types of techniques to equip it. It will really gives the crucial moments for others to know about it. It is a great passion for the people to select the great categories of the stories on the requirements of using it.
  • by Ihmhi (1206036)

    Call me when I can upload my own ringtones to a Verizon phone.

    Their ringtone store would be nice if it actually had songs [youtube.com] that [youtube.com] I [youtube.com] wanted [youtube.com].

    Moreover, I'm not going to pay $1-$5 for songs I already own.

    Their wireless service is great where I live but their media platform is very locked-in. Absolutely no freedom to make use of my own media. Until that changes, I'll be sticking with a cheapo $50 phone and a music player.

  • We are Borg^H^H^H^H Skype. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

    Might just be that Verizon figured out that resistance to voip calls is futile, and they'd better be on the smiling bunch than the grumpy one. Thumbs up for the brave move, let's see how the mobile competition responds to this. AT&T, are you there ? If you are - tough luck ;-)

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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