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Thursday, June 21, 2007


You just have to love James Tagg, CEO of Truphone, and his over the top rhetoric:

"This affects every new entrant into mobile telecommunications because the only company that can facilitate interconnection with T-Mobile is T-Mobile. To refuse is therefore an abuse of its position. It amounts to T-Mobile being able to veto a new entrant into the market. This would put telephony back 100 years, to a time when interconnections were not assured."

Telephony back a hundred years, when interconnections were not assured?

I’m sorry but even today; the biggest UK VOIP telephony players, Skype and MSN Messenger, do not allow any Tom, Dick and Harry to connect to their networks at any rate which any third party deem to pay.

Perhaps if we look at the Truphone request in a slightly different context it becomes more obvious: SPAMcity want to connect to the whole of the Truphone meager mobile VOIP UK base with SMS messages – averaging 1 message per minute to every Truphone customer and SPAMcity is willing to pay £100 per month for that access, however Truphone must guarantee delivery of the messages. Does anyone really believe that Truphone would allow SPAMcity to connect to their network?

It is not the case that ANY new entrant is allowed to connect to ANY telephony network in the world today, let alone 100-years ago. I honestly don’t believe any mobile operator in the UK is required to connect to any network. The only network required to connect to anyone “authorized” by OFCOM is BT.

Normally, mobile operators come to some sort of mutually beneficial agreement with other networks. In effect, James Tagg and his embryonic not-so-Truphone company can “facilitate interconnection” just as easily as T-Mobile, by agreeing to the T-Mobile proposed rates. I believe that if Truphone can’t negotiate an interconnect agreement then T-Mobile are not under any legal obligation whatsoever to interconnect. And I think Truphone will find that OFCOM will agree with me. If they want to spend tonnes of dosh arguing the case then they should brief their lawyers, fight the current UK telecommunications law and good luck to them and their shareholders.

However, the story gets more complicated when you look at the numbering schemes that Truphone currently use – 07624 - these numbers actually don’t belong to Truphone but belong to Manx Telecom which is the Isle of Man subsidiary of O2. Of course, wholesaling of numbers and capacity is nothing new – in fact o2 themselves has a huge arrangement with Tesco Mobile which involves well over a million numbers.

The perplexing part to me is that Manx Telecom although strictly speaking being offshore and attracting different rates than calling UK numbers and definitely being outside of the normal mobile X-net bundles will have interconnect agreements with O2 (obviously), Voda, Orange, T-Mobile and Three. I believe the 07624 numbers are in fact “beta” numbers.

However, Truphone want to launch with 07978 numbers which are not currently listed on the OFCOM website as an allocated set of numbers. I wonder how many of the operators that Truphone actually have an interconnect agreement with?

BT is mandatory but I can’t find a list of rates on the BT Wholesale site. T-Mobile is obviously in the news. But, I actually wonder if Truphone have agreements with the other operators such as O2, Voda, Orange, TalkTalk and the rest of the motley crew.

Obviously, Truphone generated a little publicity by claiming Voda and Orange crippled the Nokia N95 and is now moving onto the next target, T-Mobile interconnect rates. As far as I know, Truphone have made zero advances with the N95 publicity and are probably not going to advance any further with this interconnection noise.

The real question is when are the backers of Truphone going to realize that lining the pockets of PR agencies are going to generate less than zero returns on their investment.