In a move likely to be met with discontent by mobile network operators, Nokia has announced it is to provide full Skype support on its flagship N97 handset and subsequent Nokia N Series smartphones. This will allow users to make calls over a 3G or Wi-Fi network without having to pay the carrier anything above their monthly data subscription. For those who didn't spot it, the key word here is 3G.
Until now network operators have been ok with letting subscribers use VoIP clients over Wi-Fi, but the prospect of people with flat-rate data plans being able to make free or low cost calls using Skype is certainly not going to amuse them - especially if they are to subsidize the cost of the phone. For customers, on the other hand, this is a seriously big plus.
It is worth noting that Skype calling over 3G mobile networks is already available on Windows Mobile and other devices from UK operator 3, but Nokia is by far the biggest handset manufacturer to officially back the service and could bring some significant changes to the scene.