That’s right, both Voda and Orange have disabled a part of the N95 which made it an exciting phone for consumers. Neither operator mentions that this functionality has been disabled in any sales literature.
Truphone, who develop VoIP applications for mobile phones have discovered that even after a supposed successful install of their software to an Orange locked N95, it still wasn’t able to make internet calls.
It would also seem that the network bosses haven’t told frontline staff. There have been instances of Voda subscribers being told to contact Nokia direct for support on VoIP, and Orange customers being mis-sold the phone. One customer deliberately asked about VoIP, and if any features had been removed, but were told that it would work fine, after putting them on a £170 per month tariff.
This seems like obvious revenue protection. The networks subsidise the handset so therefore prevent the user from making cheaper calls through another medium. However, what they might be forgetting is the fact that when users are not in WiFi areas (of which public hotspots are still few and far between) they’ll be charged data rates when calling via VoIP.
Another issue with locking out internet calls, is that consumers who want this functionality will be looking to networks who do allow it, or will buy handsets sim-free from third parties which means no contract renewal and subscribers are free to go where they please.
It looks as if Vodafone and Orange may have shot themselves in the foot, instead of keeping in-step with technology.
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