T-Mobile, You used to be cool, what happened?

T-Mobile used to be cool. They were one of the first carriers in the US to offer the opportunity to use unlocked phones and they also were very early in WiFi deployments, tested Dual-Mode Services and even invested in VOIP company JahJah — Amazingly this coolness has been lost and while the left hand has been exploring the potential for advanced voice services, the right hand has begin smacking themselves back into the traditional and anti VOIP line.

If you’ve been an active follower of the working anywhere ethos, you’ve certainly used a TMO Hotspot here or overseas and probably used a VOIP service there as well… Today, though VOIP has become an issue for TMO in the UK and they are actually blocking it’s use on their networks – though cellular today, it could escalate to blocking VOIP over WiFi as well.

In case you missed the news recently TruPhone is rolling out a new version of their service. TruPhone offers a software download which enables users of WiFi enabled Nokia devices (N and E Series) to make VOIP calls over WiFi and now even 3G data. This is a great boon for the active traveller, caller and just someone looking to cut down on their monthly minute allocation. T-Mobiel has taken a remarkably active stance against Truphone and is blocking calls between their network and TruPhone, thus making themselves an island I would not want to be trapped on.

Here are some core FACTS worth noting:

  • T-Mobile has refused to interconnect with mobile VoIP provider Truphone: T-Mobile customers making a call to Truphone’s number range (07978 8xxxxx) will not be connected.
  • T-Mobile refuses to interconnect with operators offering VoIP as a matter of policy.
  • However T-Online Ventures, the venture capital arm of T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom, has just invested in VoIP provider Jajah; T-Mobile connects with BT Fusion, a VoIP service; and T-Mobile has also announced a trial of a VoIP service in USA and Germany.
  • T-Mobile is required to ‘make calls or otherwise transmit electronic communications to every normal telephone number’, which it has refused to do in the case of Truphone and other VoIP operators.
  • The other four UK major mobile network operators – 3, O2, Orange and Vodafone – all interconnect with Truphone, leaving T-Mobile isolated on this issue.
  • T-Mobile’s current adverts display the slogan “Setting the internet free”.
  • Currently a ‘beta’ service, Truphone’s is prevented from launching fully until the 07978 8xxxxx number range is fully interconnected. Beta service customers are presently unaffected by this issue.
  • Other mobile operators have employed different methods to prevent VoIP uptake. There has already been the well-publicized removal of internet telephony functionality from Nokia’s popular N95 handset by Vodafone and Orange, and new data tariffs published by Vodafone that mean customers using VoIP will be charged more than for web browsing or email.

The CEO of Truphone, James Tragg said “T-Mobile will argue that it is not ‘blocking’ Truphone but is merely negotiating on price. T-Mobile receives 35p per minute from its customers but is offering only 0.21p per minute to Truphone even when Truphone’s costs are 9p per minute to terminate the call.

While I recognize that T-Mobile is a global company with views that may vary a bit by country, this stance is sure to extend into other regions soon enough. My advice is to switch and let them know just how ridiculous this attitude really is. The users can be in control, rather than the networks. We are willing and able to purchase advanced devices and have the right to use them. In this case voice is being used as a data service and if you buy an unlimited data plan, we should be able to use it. The walled garden approach has held excitement and innovation back long enough.

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2 Replies to “T-Mobile, You used to be cool, what happened?”

  1. The main issue is International in the UK today .. though likely coming stateside soon with the sudden change in attitude.

    I think the point is that they were the least restrictive and now they are becoming a closed door place. At least ATT / Cingular lets you do what you want … with unlocked hardware.

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