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T-Mobile’s call termination opens can of worms

Hard done by internet telephony player, Truphone, is feeling the wrath of the UK’s mobile operators yet again. On Monday, the VoIP provider complained that T-Mobile had started blocking connections to Truphone’s number range, 07978, by refusing to interconnect with the service.

T-Mobile’s argument hinges on the fact that because Truphone has managed to acquire a number range normally used by mobile operators – 07xxx – it also has to pay the same termination fees it pays to mobile operators, despite the fact that Truphone is actually terminating the call on a cheaper fixed network.

T-Mobile is, perhaps understandably, a bit miffed by this and has decided to stop connecting calls to Truphone until a deal can be struck.

Analyst Dean Bubley, over at Disruptive Wireless, points out that T-Mobile seems to be basing its case on Ofcom’s latest directive on mobile interconnect costs. The regulation, which came into play in April specifically governs the connection of calls on mobile networks, which leaves the issue of VoIP somewhat in the dark.

But the situation has been complicated by the fact that if a Truphone user is out of range of wifi, the service provider then has to pay to forward the call to the user’s GSM mobile number. “This is expensive, and therefore all forwarded calls cost Truphone much more than it gets out of T-Mo to begin with,” said Bubley.

Truphone has also taken issue with the fact that the other four UK major mobile network operators – 3, O2, Orange and Vodafone – are all continuing to interconnect with Truphone, making it look like T-Mobile is picking on the service provider.

Arguably, T-Mobile would also have to take the same stance with other services using mobile numbers that connect on fixed line networks, such as BT’s Fusion and Orange’s Unique service, when their customers are in wifi coverage. Then of course, if this is a company wide policy, there’s the question of T-Mobile’s own UMA service in the US.

It’s not the first time Truphone has fallen foul of the operator community’s confusing attitude to VoIP. When the Nokia N95 launched in the UK on Orange and Vodafone, the SIP stack was conspicuously absent, making some VoIP services unavailable.

More to follow

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