Story update – ban is for technical reasons, and IM is coming
We’ve had an update to this story. T-Mobile would like us to point out that in their view, “VoIP the technology is not yet of a consistent, or high enough level of quality to offer a good customer experience on the T-Mobile network. This situation may change in the future, but for now we believe it is in the best interests of our customers to restrict the use of VOIP technology.”
The operators also told us, in the same statement, “We are also looking to provide an Instant Messaging (IM) solution for our customers later in the year.”
T-Mobile appears to have married its launch of an HSDPA data card and new “all you can eat” professional tariff with a ban on VoIP or IP messaging over its network.
The small print following the operator’s launch statement (see www.mobileeurope.co.uk/2145) said of VoIP or IP messaging: “If use of either or both of these services is detected, T-Mobile may terminate the contracts with the customer and disconnect any SIM cards and/or web ‘n’ walk cards from the network.”
Up until now the operator may not have seen the need to ban either service, as any user thinking it was cheaper to run a voice call (from, say, a Skype client on his PC) packetised over the 3G network would have been in for a nasty shock when his data charges came in.
But now, with the launch of an unlimited data usage tarrif, combined with HSDPA, T-Mobile is clearly nervous some users may take the option to use the data card to make “free” VoIP calls or send instant messages instead of incurring voice and SMS tariffs.
T-Mobile’s data marketing manager Rob Langton this morning confirmed (in an email to Mobile Europe’s sister title Communications News) that the VoIP ban was “a commercial decision”.
He added that the mobile operator might reverse its decision to ban IP-based messaging, if enough customers demanded it.
We’ve asked T-Mobile how it intends to identify rogue usage, and what the banning mechanism would be. More on that later when we hear back from them.
Although the ban applies to only a small proportion of its potential users (those on this tariff with the relevant data card) it shows that operators are nervous about the potential effect of IP on its core voice and messaging revenues.
Many in the industry argue that operators would be better placed embracing the potential advantages of IP services, rather than adopting a defensive position.