Truphone Wins Injunction Against T-Mobile
Truphone, a U.K. start-up that offers low-cost calls on WiFi-enabled phones, took T-Mobile to court because it claimed that T-Mobile was blocking calls to its number range. The court hearing is the climax to a long-running spat between the two companies over interconnection terms.
Basically, they cannot agree on how much T-Mobile should pay Truphone for termination. The deadlock led Truphone to take legal action.
Truphone wants to charge T-Mobile regular mobile termination rates because it has a mobile number range from U.K. regulator Ofcom . But T-Mobile argues that Truphone is technically not a mobile network operator and has instead offered to pay an average fixed-line termination rate of .21 pence, which is substantially less than mobile operator rates.
Yesterday's injunction requires T-Mobile to start routing calls to Truphone numbers by July 23, and T-Mobile will pay the fixed-line termination rate for now. But the decision is only an interim measure and the battle is far from over. The two companies will legally slug it out over these termination charges in a full trial later this year.
Critics of Truphone say it is merely an arbitrage player using the mobile termination rate system to make its profits. Truphone claims that T-Mobile has taken a policy decision against Truphone.
"They don't want us to exist," said Truphone CEO James Tagg in a phone interview with Unstrung last month. "They don't think we should be classified as a mobile operator."
Meantime, the injunction means Truphone can commercially launch its mobile VOIP service, according to a spokesman, but the timing is unknown. Truphone is currently in beta with tens of thousands of customers, according to Tagg. (See Truphone Secures Funding.)
Tagg said he could not commercially launch his service without an interconnection agreement with T-Mobile.
T-Mobile accounts for about 23 percent of the U.K. mobile market. "That means that about a quarter of the population thinks our service doesn't work," said Tagg.
With a free software download, Truphone works on Nokia E-series and N-series phones. There is no monthly fee. Users can call and send SMS messages to other Truphone users for free. (See Truphone, The Cloud Team, Truphone Signs Agreement, Truphone, GTalk Connect, and Truphone Adds Features.)
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung