Truphone scores against T-Mobile

The mobile VoIP community drew first blood against the incumbent carriers this week, when a UK court forced T-Mobile to interconnect with Truphone.

Last month, the VoIP provider complained that T-Mobile had started blocking connections to Truphone’s new 07978 number range, following a dispute over the interconnect fees T-Mobile would pay to connect a call to a Truphone number.

On Monday, the Royal Court of Justice stepped in with an interim injunction forcing T-Mobile to begin routing calls to Truphone numbers by July 23.

The ruling is understood to be the first time that interim relief has been awarded against a mobile network operator under the Competition Act in the UK.

In a nutshell, T-Mobile argues that even though Truphone has managed to acquire a number range typically reserved for mobile phones, it is not in fact a mobile operator, and should not receive the termination charges normally given to mobile carriers.

On the one hand, this seems reasonable as Truphone terminates calls to it users on a fixed (wifi) network. But on the other hand, if a Truphone user is out of range of a wifi connection, Truphone has to route the call through to the user’s mobile number and must pay to terminate the call on a mobile network.

Arguments over interconnect pricing aside, it seems in this case that the judge has taken issue with T-Mobile’s decision to arbitrarily block access to a range of numbers, which should be accessible to its subscribers.

Dean Bubley over at Disruptive Analysis, commented: “While I certainly appreciate the desire of operators not to subsidise WLAN-capable handsets & then see that subsidy used against them, the notion that they can just arbitrarily block outbound calls to number ranges they don’t like is ridiculous.”

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