According to the OMTP specifications, operators are entitled to remove or lock down VoIP applications on subsidised handsets, but they must provide the ability to remove that lock when the contract period expires, just as they now will release a handset to be used on another network (SIM lock).
Bad luck for some independent mobile VoIP providers, as the incumbents agree on that the initial VoIP settings should be securely protected in the terminal, and can only be changed by the operator. When the service contract comes to an end, the customer can request the provider to unlock the Terminal’s VoIP settings and associate the pre-installed voice applications with alternative VoIP service providers.
This means in most cases: No Truphone
Much better off are independent mobile VoIP companies which install their own applications, such as Skype, Fring, Gizmo Project, Jajah, iSkoot, Nimbuzz or Yeigo. The customer may be able to install third-party applications (Java or other Terminal OS applications) that offer VoIP calling using third-party VoIP providers. The only VoIP applications that are forced to use the operator’s settings are those that were pre-installed on the Terminal, and only during the term of the contract that the Terminal was supplied with.
The mobile phone users must be informed that VoIP has been locked or disabled. So the removal of menu items, in the way that Vodafone and Orange crippled their Nokia N95, wouldn't be allowed. The Register states that the guidance is not binding to the member companies. But as so many network operators were involved in writing, it's surely what we will see next on the entire European or world market.
Let's see if that's acceptable to regulators such as UK's Ofcom and what e. g. Truphone will do. Their new software Truphone 3.0 is so feature rich and has presence functions so that it seems quite similar to the mentioned "alternative VoIP applications" to me. If Truphone 4.0 packed it all in the software, instead of using Nokias underlying SIP functions, they would be out of trouble.
But then Truphone would suck as much battery as Fring does.
I got an email from Wifimobile's John O'Prey. He says that his company is NOT affected. "This is not the case as our client is a stand alone application which can be installed. I would be most grateful if you could kindly correct this."
Sorry for that!