Truphone attacks Vodafone over VoIP ban

VoIP provider has accused Vodafone of blocking calls to its numbers and has sought legal advice, as the mobile operator denies the allegations

VoIP provider Truphone has attacked Vodafone over its alleged refusal to connect calls to Truphone's network.

On Wednesday James Tagg, chief executive of Truphone — an internet telephony operator offering low-cost mobile calls via IP rather than the standard cellular network — addressed reports that suggested his company was set to sue Vodafone over the lack of interconnect. "We are considering our position at the moment," Tagg told ZDNet UK. "We're reserving the right to take any option at the moment to defend our position and we are at the moment very concerned about the non-routing of numbers."

However, despite indicating that Truphone had "taken advice both with respect to the regulatory environment and with respect to the legal environment", Tagg maintained that the "best possible outcome" would be public opinion "shaming" the operator into changing its policy. He added that Vodafone has had Truphone's 07 number range to hand for almost a year, and was given a formal request to allow such connections five or six months ago.

Vodafone disputed Truphone's version of events, claiming that the VoIP company's number set was not blocked. "The process when we receive such requests is that we have to go through a standard provisioning process, and Truphone has not provided us with all the relevant information," said a company spokesperson, who indicated that Vodafone was "in the process of making a number range submitted by Truphone live".

Ofcom said there is no regulation compelling mobile operators to connect to any network. "We believe there is sufficient competition in the mobile market to ensure that consumers will get access to the services they want," a spokesperson for the telecoms regulator said. "Connection to Truphone's numbers by Vodafone would be a matter of commercial negotiation."

Tagg also responded to criticisms of Truphone regarding the blockage of its service on Vodafone and Orange's versions of the Nokia N95. Subsequent to the emergence of that story, Gerry O'Prey — chief executive of another VoIP company, WiFiMobile — claimed that Truphone's client did not work on N95s "due to a limitation as to the way that the Truphone software communicates with their VoIP service".

"Our VoIP service works perfectly on the N95s supplied by Vodafone and Orange," said O'Prey, claiming that WiFiMobile's client "offers a full SIP stack, whereas [Truphone's] doesn't".

Not so, said Tagg, who claimed the issue had nothing to do with the SIP stack — a crucial component of any integrated VoIP solution. "The VoIP stack is still there," he said, "[but] the menu items that allow a user to get to it are switched off. The reason we use the Nokia VoIP and SIP stack [as opposed to providing a full stack like WiFiMobile or Fring] is that it has been optimised as a system for battery life." Tagg claimed that Truphone has its own VoIP and SIP stack "lying in a drawer", allowing comparisons between the two approaches. "You need to integrate properly for battery life and usability," he insisted.

Vodafone, which recently revealed a new data pricing structure allowing 15MB of data per day for £1, insists in its terms and conditions that its data connections via mobile or data card "cannot be used for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, such as Skype, or peer-to-peer services (such as instant messenger services, text messaging clients or file sharing)".


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