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Deal brings Skype to Verizon 3G phones

Starting in March, Verizon will let customers with some smartphones use the Internet telephony application over its 3G network.

Skype and Verizon announced a partnership Tuesday to bring the Internet-calling technology to a number of 3G BlackBerry and Android phones starting in March.

Under the deal, the Skype mobile software will be available on a variety of smartphones: RIM's BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, and Tour 9630 and Motorola's Droid, Eris, and Devour. Customers will need to have a data plan to use the application, the companies said in an announcement at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.

Skype, independent once again after an eBay spinoff last year, is a top company providing voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that let people talk over the Net. For a fee, Skype also lets members call ordinary phone numbers through its Skype Out service or receive such calls through Skype In, and it's added video chat as well.

Through the Verizon deal, Skype members will be able to make unlimited Skype calls to other Skype members, call international phone numbers at Skype Out rates, and send Skype instant messages, the companies said.

Skype offers applications for iPhones and Android phones, but the data-access demands of voice chat have imposed compromises.

On the iPhone, the application works only over Wi-Fi connections for now, though AT&T approved VoIP applications in 2009. And on Android, the application connects the call conventionally over a local number rather than through VoIP.