Under a deal announced Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress trade show, users of some Verizon phones who have a voice and data plan will be able to download a free Skype application in late March. That will let them call or instant-message other Skype users for free or call regular phone numbers outside the United States for a fee paid to Skype. These calls would go over Verizon's network and would not use up minutes on a cell phone plan.
Minutes would be deducted, however, to use Skype to call regular phone numbers in the U.S., Verizon said.
Initially, the mobile application will be available for nine Verizon phones, including several BlackBerry models and Motorola Inc.'s Droid and upcoming Devour handsets.
John Stratton, Verizon's chief marketing officer, said the application will be able to run all the time in the background. This means other people should be able to contact you through Skype even if your phone is on standby.
Other wireless carriers have blocked the Skype app from running all the time. It's available on the iPhone only in Wi-Fi hot spots. In October, AT&T said it would relent and let the program work over its cellular network as well, but Skype has not yet released an application to enable that. Verizon's version of Skype mobile will not work over Wi-Fi, the companies said.