T-Mobile VoIP Shenanigans - AGAIN!

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Tom Keating
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T-Mobile VoIP Shenanigans - AGAIN!

I've written about T-Mobile's VoIP blocking shenanigan's here, here, and here.  Not to mention their blocking of MinuteWatcher for tracking cellphone minute usage. I also wrote how Truphone won an injunction against T-mobile ordering T-Mobile UK to stop blocking calls to Truphone. T-Mobile's heavy-handed blocking tactics is getting a bit old.

Well, according to TUAW, T-mobile is at it again. Thilo Salmon, CEO of sipgate, told TUAW that T-Mobile Germany has asked his company to cease and desist offering the company's VoIP software called sipgate, which can run on the Apple iPhone. sipgate launched their VoIP app for the iPhone in June.

I busted out laughing when I read, "T-Mobile claims that sipgate is making the jailbreak process appear more attractive, which could lead customers to breaching their contracts."

Yeah, so? If I buy a radar detector does that mean I'm more apt to speed? Maybe, but that doesn't mean I can't legally (in most states) purchase a radar detector. You can't block something just because it might 'entice' someone to do something that breaches a contract or the law.

Now if T-Mobile makes its customers sign a contract stating they won't jailbreak their phone or install VoIP, that's fine. If you catch the users doing so, then you can cancel their service, demand the cancellation fee, etc. But you can't pre-emptively punish your customers or 3rd party applications for something they may or may not do. You have to break the contract first, then you have a breach of contract and not one second before.

T-Mobile's contract currently disallows jailbreaking, running VoIP, instant messaging, and VPN applications. But again, you can't send cease-and-desist letters to 3rd party companies because they haven't done anything wrong. It's not illegal to write software. Just like guns. It isn't illegal to own a gun, but you can use a gun illegally. Do you send cease-and-desist letters to gun manufacturers? No. You prosecute the gun owners who use their guns illegally, i.e. taking it into a school, shooting someone, etc.

The interesting part is that sipgate only works via WiFi (and not GPRS or EDGE), and doesn't run on T-Mobile's wireless data network. So it's not like sipgate is bypassing T-Mobile's per-minute voice service entirely using an unlimited data plan. WiFi hotspots aren't ubiquitous either, where as you can get GPRS/EDGE data service much more readily. You could argue blocking VoIP on GPRS/EDGE/3G has some merits. Even the iPhone blocks VoIP unless it goes over WiFi -- but the iPhone at least permits VoIP over WiFi!

sipgate said it does not plan to comply with the order. The article states that Salmon boldly claims, "we may need to fight this all the way through the courts." and suggested that it's largely a government policy issue for Germany, and wants to lobby for a net-neutral environment for telecom carriers.

fight-the-good-fight-triumph-album.jpgFight the good fight, sipgate! I'm with you all the way.

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