T-Mobile plays VoWLAN hardball

Mobile VoIP service provider Truphone has again fallen victim to tough rules imposed on its service by threatened mobile operators.

On this occasion, T-Mobile has stopped customers connecting its customers when they make calls using Truphone – which provides a Skype-like service for mobile phones.

The argument centres around termination fees – the amount paid to a receiving network when a call is made to a customer of that network. Because Truphone has been issued with mobile numbers (ones beginning 07-) it expects to receive the same termination fees as other mobile operators. 

T-Mobile argues that Truphone’s voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) service should receive lower termination fees because it does not have the expense of running a mobile network.

“T-Mobile is blocking our numbers unless we accept this loss-making offer and, since T-Mobile is the only company that can route calls from its customers it has a complete veto on the Truphone service,” Truphone’s CEO James Tagg told comms website GigaOM. 

Unless either side backs down, telecoms regulator Ofcom may have to step in.

Nevertheless, the mobile operators need to find ways of coping with the growing popularity of VoWLAN services, said Dean Bubbly, analyst with Disruptive Research. “Up until now, everyone had operated on the unspoken principle of ‘mutually assured destruction’ about the real complexities of interconnect and termination in an IP world. We had a standoff, with all players knowing that calling-party-pays, mobile versus fixed numbering, and VoIP interconnect were likely casualties of the fallout.” 

“T-Mobile UK has just pressed the big red button without thinking of the longer-term issues,” he added.

T-Mobile is not the only mobile operator struggling with VoWLAN. Earlier this year, Vodaphone and Orange whipped up a storm by removing access to Truphone’s service on their popular Nokia N95 phones.

Further reading

Twisted pairingfixed-mobile convergence – April 2007

Henry Catchpole

Henry Catchpole runs Inform Direct, a company records management software company which simplifies the process of dealing with Companies House. The business was set up in 2013.

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