Want To Get Out Of Your iPhone Contract on T-Mobile Germany? Easy, Just Use Skype

from the verboten dept

Skype has gotten some press this week after it announced the availability of a an iPhone client for its service (except in Canada, though, thanks to patent issues). The application only works over WiFi, though, and not the cellular data network. Operators typically say these restrictions are in order to prevent the use of massive amounts of bandwidth and harm network performance for other users; what seems more likely is they're worried that Skype will "steal voice minutes" away from their network. That's a silly belief though, because when users are already paying for a big bundle of minutes, and have unlimited off-peak minutes, and so on, it's not very likely they'll go to the trouble of using Skype for most calls. Perhaps the only ones they'd use such an application for are for calls they weren't going to make through the operator's network anyway -- such as international calls, for which they'd use a cheaper landline, a calling card, or wait until they're in front of a PC. Blocking Skype from working over the mobile network only hurts the operators by putting up a barrier in front of customers, it really doesn't protect any revenues. But no matter, the blocking -- or worse -- goes on. In Germany, where Skype is the top download from the App Store, T-Mobile (the operator which sells the iPhone there) is threatening to terminate the contracts of customers who use Skype on their iPhones, because the contracts prohibit the use of VoIP services. That's a nice touch: play by our rules, or you'll no longer have the privilege of giving us your money. You know, that doesn't sound so bad, because then users are free to take their business elsewhere. Although, as Skype's general counsel points out, every other mobile operator in Germany also bans VoIP.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Obvious business model

    1. Buy iPhone in Germany
    2. Get out of contract by using VoIP
    3. Jailbreak
    4. Resell
    5. Profit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 9:44pm

    I would suspect that the termination clause would get invoked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 11:13pm


    Possibly. It would depend on how that clause is worded. Most that I have seen only address user termination, not provider termination. If you terminate MY account, do you think I'm going to PAY you for it? I think not. Then again, I also do not subscribe to any service that has a fee associated with my termination of services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    wheatus, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 12:28am


    Did these phone companies not think this would happen? Did they know about skype?

    The big story these days is, what are we gonna do with all these people who don't know how to do anything...?..after they are done trying to enslave the rest of us that is.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Cornholio, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Whaaaaa! People keep finding cheaper ways to get what they want and that loses us money!!!! Whaaaaaa! Block people from a service that they want and they will walk all over you in droves. Adapt or perish.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Avatar28, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Can the even do that?

    I know things like copyright are kind of wonky over in Europe, at least from the perspective of most of us Yanks, but can they even ban what you do with if you're not transmitting it on their network? Seems to me that would be akin to them saying that you aren't allowed to use a wifi connection to surf the web, you HAVE to use their data connection. Or, heck, saying that you aren't allowed to play solitarie. For that matter, how do they even KNOW if you've been using Skype over wi-fi? Is there some back door that tells them what apps you run?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Avatar28, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re: Can the even do that?

    P.S. Yes, I realize this isn't really copyright related, that was just an example. Business/contract law would probably have been a better thing to say though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    David, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 9:30am


    It would be funny, because this would not stop them from using Skype on an iPhone. Just walk into Starbucks or the German equivalent, and you would have a place to use your iPhone...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jed, Apr 30th, 2009 @ 2:52pm

    What about data only plans?

    You are forgetting one very important variable, data only plans. Through T-Mobile you can purchase an unlimited data only plan for about $35/mo. And for about $5/mo in addition you can get unlimited in/out calling via Skype anywhere you have a 3G signal. To get a similar plan through your cellphone provider will often cost between $700-1300 a year more!

    There is good reason for cell providers to block voip. But disguising it as the customers best interest is absurd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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