CellCarriers fear mobile VoIP planet


Why is T-Mobile UK blocking calls to mobile VoIP start-up Truphone?

Mobile carriers are scared of one thing: becoming dumb pipes whose only utility is to carry voice and text. And it is one of the reasons why they are fighting tooth and nail with the mobile VoIP providers, using all sorts of tactics to make mobile VoIP a non-starter. (See video below the fold!) [digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Why_is_T_Mobile_Scared_of_Truphone]

The company bearing the brunt of this scorched-earth policy is Truphone, a UK-based start-up that has developed a mobile VoIP client that makes it easy to make cheap calls (cheaper than mobile minutes that is) over dual mode phone, like Nokia N95 and Nokia E-Series phones. Once again, the company finds itself in the cross hairs of a behemoth that wishes to see Truphone go away.

T-Mobile UK is refusing 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 told Truphone, that as a result of a policy decision, they don’t connect to VoIP-based low cost calling services.
T-Mobile UK’s decision to block Truphone might have come as a response to the new and radically better Truphone 3.0 client that allows you to send Free SMS messages and allows VoIP calls over 3G. According to M:Metrics, nearly 86% of UK mobile users are heavy SMS users, and that means it is a cash cow that carriers like T-Mobile can’t afford to be slaughtered by IP-based SMS services. (Jesse Kopelman had discussed the impact of Mobile VoIP in his excellent post here.)

On the issue of Voice calls, Truphone CEO James Tagg says, “This affects every new entrant into mobile telecommunications because the only company that can facilitate interconnection with T-Mobile is T-Mobile. It amounts to T-Mobile being able to veto a new entrant into the market. This would put telephony back 100 years, to a time when interconnections were not assured.”

T-Mobile is offering to pay Truphone 0.21 pennies per minute, even though it charges its customers 35p per minute. Truphone claims that its call termination costs are 9p a minute. “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,” Tagg says.

This is not the first time Tagg is fighting the big guys. A few months ago, the company got into trouble with Orange and Vodafone, which had prevented Truphone from working on devices that carried their own version of the operating system.

Since then, Vodafone has introduced a new policy which makes it more expensive to use data plans for anything other than browsing and email, a move that is designed to blunt the uptake of Mobile VoIP, especially over fast 3G connections.Fighting the incumbents is not the only challenge Truphone faces –Vonage and countless other VoIP providers have learnt the hard way that fighting the cheap minutes battle is an unviable strategy in the long term.



Great article and discussion, but to all of the people who seem to misunderstand the article, please re-read it.

The problem is NOT T-mobile blocking the use of the VOIP client on their network, but rather refusing to terminate regular cellular calls TO a block of UK numbers recently assigned to Truphone.

This is NOTHING to do with data plans. We’re talking regular GSM cellular calls on the T-mobile side.

It’s akin to, say, T-mobile refusing to connect calls to Virgin Mobile subscribers. It’s just punitive.


With WiMax u can bypass the Telco n lauch your own Telco based on WiMax services:)

So here comes WiMax. Be interesting to see how the telco’s respond?


There’s a fair bit of misinformation around this, T-mobile UK have call plans for PAYG customers that are 12p/minute not the 35p claimed by Truphone, then there’s the inclusive calls on pay monthly tariffs etc which are at lower effective rates.


The competition IS heating up! perhaps, the mobile industry needs to learn from other industries and embrace new technologies – sometimes the smartest strategy is to eat your lunch than have none left….

However, T-Mobile’s fears could almost be understandable. How else are they going to meet their performance projections? ;) Rebtel’s CEO Hjalmar Windbladh explained that Vodafone’s annual revenue increases can be attributed to customers not using their inclusive minutes offered with their phone contracts. Read the full story on http://blog.rebtel.com/ Perhaps, they want to protect their investment in Jajah?

Personally, the troubles between T-Mobile and Truphone are indicative of old phone company mentality. However, the real discussion is why trouble yourself, there already exists a solution for long distance calls – the real solution is http://www.rebtel.com

James Herbert

This could be a good thing for consumers. The public seem to have heard about Truphone more than anyone else and probably haven’t tried any other services. The reality is that Truphone is NOT the best mobile VOiP service available. All their software does is configure Nokias SIP client, which is a terrible business and as I see it they don’t actually have a product.

Markus Goebel

Blocking Truphone is like trying to cut all of Hydra’s heads. It’s not only Truphone which is offering VoIP over 3G and over Wifi. It’s also Fring, Wifimobile, Mobiboo, Yeigo, aql and thousands of other companies worldwide. In fact every SIP based VoIP provider can do a quite similar job like Truphone. It makes no difference if you install your SIP login data into a mobile phone or an ATA or a soft phone.

Dean Bubley

Essentially the whole area of FMC and wVoIP completely breaks the European termination fee regime.

The general assumption that call to 07xxx Mobile Number = Termination on Expensive Mobile Network is now invalid.

Calls to any number – fixed, mobile, VoIP or a Skype or other ID – now might actually terminate on a cellphone, fixed phone, or other device, via VoWLAN, VoIPo3G, circuit, high-quality circuit, voicemail server or perhaps be forked to 2 or more of these.

Some solutions are possible –

a) Biller keeps all the money, but they have to interconnect everywhere to keep their customers happy

b) Because mobile numbers are more “valuable” than fixed numbers (people tend to put them in their phonebooks first, plus they assume they can receive SMS etc), charge the operator for each 07x number issued.


With regards to concerns over battery life – Yeigo, which also uses 3g or Wifi, uses even less bandwidth (less than 5mb an hour),effectively giving you longer battery life while saving you money too.

Win win as far as I’m concerned – check them out: http://www.yeigo.com

Just out of interest, what is a radio subsystem?


Or… you could use aql instead on your E-Series or N95 handset, who’s numbers aren’t blocked by T-Mobile.

Just text NOKIA to 64446 and you’ll get a configuration message back immediately. Once you’ve told the phone which access point to use you use it immediately and without any software to install.

You also don’t have to have an 07xxx number, which people will be unsure how much it costs to call – you can have a UK geographic number in the city of your choice for £2/month.

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