Skype-Verizon Deal: More Details

Skype and Verizon (s VZ) announced a partnership earlier this week that would embed the Internet calling service on Verizon’s smartphones. The partnership, at least to me, was driven by Verizon’s fear of the iPhone.

I wondered if the two companies had signed an exclusive deal. But during the press conference, when I asked Verizon chief marketing officer John Stratton and Skype CEO Josh Silverman about the deal, they both dodged the question. Then later during a conversation with Silverman, when I asked if his company would work with another carrier in the U.S. building a solution similar to the one being offered to Verizon’s customers, he declined to answer the question.  “I cannot comment and speculate on this,” is what he said.

Their evasiveness, got me — like many of our readers — even more curious about the deal. I have been making calls to my sources and have picked up some interesting (though no means all) details.  The deal, my sources tell me, is an exclusive partnership between the two that will last for a period of 2-3 years. No other U.S. carrier is going to get a similar Skype offering — which also bolsters my theory that Skype can help Verizon distinguish itself amongst smartphone offerings, especially the iPhone.

Another thing I also picked up: Skype’s iPhone app for 3G is ready to go, but the company is holding it back, mostly because it’s worried about the AT&T (s T) network. Silverman recently told me that the company would release a Skype upgrade “very soon.” I wonder how much of the delay is caused by the influence wielded by their friends at Verizon.