T-Mobile: "Owned" by Skype? Or maybe not…

by alec on December 26, 2006

I just finished chatting with Andy about his Mylo.  Andy loves his Mylo.  He was calling me from the Starbucks near his house, using their T-Mobile WiFi and Skype on Mylo for… nothing.  Quality was pretty good, although Starbucks was a pretty noisy place.

The way Andy sees it, Skype has done something totally subversive with Sony and T-Mobile.  For the price of the Mylo, and $15 to Skype, you can make unlimited calls from any T-Mobile hotspot to anybody in North America for the next 12 months.  In fact, you can do the same from any hotspot, T-Mobile or not.  It’s just that Mylo includes 12 months of T-Mobile usage. 

It’s a helluva deal, but I disagree that it’s Skype doing the subverting.

You see, in France, Orange has a very similar deal running.  For a flat monthly fee, you get the Orange Livebox (broadband / Wifi), and phone service.  For a small additional fee, you can have a a dual-mode WiFi / Cellular telephone.  While at home, or at a friends home, or in any of the many Orange (and Orange partner) hotspots throughout France, the calls are no additional charge.  Wander out of WiFi range, and it’s just a standard cellular call.

Orange has parlayed their cellular strength into DSL and an assault on the residential fixed line.  It is, frankly, an unbelievable bargain for the customer. 

So, is Skype subverting T-Mobile, or… perhaps it’s T-Mobile getting the better end of the bargain.  Perhaps T-Mobile wants to duplicate Orange’s successes in Europe, but with Skype.  However you look at it, though, customers are getting the best deal. 

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