The names of the carriers are not being unveiled until next week, but Light Reading has learned that Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT) is one of Skype's network suppliers. Level 3 said it couldn't provide comment for this article.
Of the other potential partners, Global Crossing Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: GLBC) says it's not involved, and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) said it was unable to answer any questions related to Skype at present.
Skype declined to comment.
Skype's CEO, KaZaA Founder, Niklas Zennstrom, told the VON Europe show in June that the service provider's first commercial service, SkypeOut, would be launched this summer (see Skype Plans Some Ins & Outs). The latest release of Skype's free software, version 0.98.0.28, includes enhancements for SkypeOut, which will allow users to call any standard phone number for a pre-paid fee, though the service hasn't been officially launched yet. Even once SkypeOut is available, calling other Skype users will remain free.
Currently all the Skype services, including the five-person conferencing capability, are running over the public Internet, but it was inevitable that the startup would need to move its commercial traffic onto more reliable IP networks, says Geoff Bennett, Chief Technologist at Heavy Reading (over a Skype call).
Bennett is a regular user of the free Skype service, and, while impressed with the service, he has noticed calls being dropped recently. "They need to address the reliability aspect of the service. People will put up with almost anything when a service is free, but the move to a paid service was always going to require more reliable infrastructure that doesn't reroute calls while they're being made," says Bennett.
"You need guaranteed reliability when you charge for a service, and Skype is making the right move by hooking up with the existing infrastructure owners. It wouldn't make sense to put together its own network."
Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading
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