Widely reported yesterday, Truphone scored a small victory in its fight with T-Mobile over access. T-Mobile had chosen to block calls to Truphone numbers, arguing that Truphone was not a mobile operator (since it had no network of its own), and therefore T-Mobile shouldn't be required to pay mobile termination fees to Truphone. You could still make a phone call from a Truphone enabled mobile phone, just not receive one. A London judge yesterday agreed to grant injunctive relief to Truphone, and required T-Mobile to pass calls pending a trial or some other extra-legal agreement between the companies.
Scrappy Truphone CEO James Tagg positions this as a victory for consumers. For Truphone, however, this is a life or death issue. Being allowed to participate in the rich stream of mobile termination fees vs T-Mobile's prior offer of fractions of a cent is what makes it possible for Truphone to offer unlimited free calls to its customers via their wireless phones. Fortunately for T-Mobile, the types of phones that Truphone can run on represent a relatively tiny portion of the market. If Truphone was capable of running on any standard cell phone, they'd have a threat on their hands that they would need to deal with very quickly, indeed.