Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Vyke fights back against mobile incumbents' agreement to lock down alternative VoIP providers

Vyke plans to release an upgrade to its mobile VoIP software that will "restore full mobile VoIP functionality on mobile handsets that have been intentionally crippled by mobile operators", says their latest press release. The forthcoming version of Vyke Mobile IP will provide users with a "fully functional, stand alone mobile VoIP application that circumvents the mobile operator orchestrated removal of built-in handset VoIP capabilities".

Vyke wants to prevent problems caused by the new guidelines from the Open Mobile Terminal Alliance (OMTP), an organisation of big mobile operators like Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and 3. The guidance recommends to disable mobile VoIP features from new handsets sold under contract subsidy.

Tommy Jensen, Executive Chairman for Vyke Communications plc speaks in strong words:
The user should be able to do whatever they want with the phone as they have already signed a contract that guarantees the mobile operator sufficient revenues to justify them giving him or her the device in the first place.

There is an elephant in the room that no mobile operator or regulatory agency seems to be acknowledging - network neutrality. When Vodafone decides, as of June 1st, to prohibit their users from using third party applications for services like instant messaging, VoIP or text messaging, they are effectively censoring their user’s ability to choose what services they want to access from a network that they are paying for. Imagine if a home DSL provider blocked access to Google because they wanted to force you to use their own search engine, on which incidentally you had to pay a charge for each search. As wild as it sounds, this is a direct parallel to what is happening right now in the mobile arena.

It's puzzling to read these words, after an article by The Register had declared that the OMTP guidelines would do no harm to Vyke, but only to Truphone. If so, why is Vyke's latest announcement refering so much to the OMTP?

In every case a stand alone mobile VoIP application frees Vyke from the Truphone trap on Nokia N95 in the UK.

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