Mobile operators defend VoIP ban


Mobile operators defend VoIP ban

Antony Savvas

Mobile operators have defended their decision to block mobile VoIP services over their networks.

Last month, it was revealed that Vodafone and Orange had blocked contract users from using the Truphone VoIP application on the new Nokia N95 phone.

The N95 is designed to give users the ability to make free or cheaper calls when in the range of a Wi-Fi hotspot, using services such as Truphone or Skype.

But a consultancy representing the mobile operators has defended the move. Ray Tarling, head of mobile content delivery at Alpheus, said, “Mobile operators invest in providing a reliable and extensive mobile network. They also heavily subsidise handsets, which provides a customer base for new technology providers, like Truphone, to target.

“In this environment, VoIP players could be viewed as trying to freeload at the operators’ expense. Players like Skype or Truphone do not pay anything towards the costs of handsets or network operations, yet they make gains running their services across these networks.

“Operators can’t be criticised for charging for data, and there have been substantial price reductions in the past few months. If companies such as Truphone wish to subsidise their own unlocked handsets, that option is open to them. Additionally, some operators, such as 3, do have plans that include VoIP services.”

Similar battle lines were drawn when mobile operators started to block third party mobile websites via the first WAP services to appear over GSM networks.

Their “walled garden” approach - designed to make sure potential premium content, advertising and retail revenue stayed with them - was criticised, and eventually the operators allowed their users to access most external websites on their phones.

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