Reading that T-Mobile has banned VoIP traffic from its network is a little frustrating (‘little’ only as I have yet to signup to them - were I a customer, this should read ‘very frustrating’). Being the only UK operator I know of to offer flat-rate data packages, I thought perhaps T-Mobile might emerge as the industry’s much-needed forward-looking operator. Whilst I understand the business needs of their decision (survival depends on their core-business voice-calls), it feels like a missed opportunity to expand something that utlimately looks set to be the future of voice communications. However, the original article does mention that development of custom VoIP (and instant messaging, which is also currently banned) clients is still viable:
[Tony Lock, Bloor Research] cast doubt on the sustainable viability of a mobile operator banning VoIP from its network. “I think that eventually, if there’s customer demand for this, it will happen,” Lock said. “Other organisations will come along allowing VoIP. Who do you think is going to win?”
Good news for VoIP users, however, came with Skype’s announcement of free SkypeOut calls to US- and Canada-based phones, including mobiles. Whilst only available for a limited time (the end of 2006), hopefully this will become a trend, and the likes of free evening and weekend calls over VoIP will become widespread.
I would like to hope that T-Mobile et. al. can see the value in VoIP mobile, and break the prevalent stagnation of Internet communications (both voice and data) in the mobile market. As a developer, I don’t care much for the restrictive (through terms or, more often, inflated cost) nature of the mobile networks in the UK: I positively detest my current network operator’s (Three) walled-garden Internet portal, which has made developing my final project a nightmare, and really does not embody the values of the Web.
The potential for mobile-web based applications is too great to ignore. T-Mobile had made the right step in offering a flat-rate bandwidth service; I only hope they employ that same mindset when deciding the services they will carry on that bandwidth.