Nokia Clarifies Its Future N-Series VoIP Plans

I recently wrote about Nokia backing away from VoIP on some of their N-Series phones, in particular noting that carriers had never viewed the addition of the functionality too kindly. Nokia is now responding on its blog, saying that no, it isn’t backing away from VoIP. The company also not only denies that it’s under carrier pressure, but goes so far as to say that I failed to “qualify” such a theory.

In my defense, I have been covering the mobile industry for a long time, and have multiple sources at numerous carriers who have privately shared their disdain for mobile VoIP functionality. There are many incidents of carrier arm-twisting when it comes to mobile VoIP in countries such as the United Kingdom.This is not just a Nokia issue; most handset makers face the same pressures.

And as 3G becomes commonplace, mobile VoIP is turning into an even bigger problem for carriers. According to some estimates you can make a 15-minute VoIP call over 3G and consume about 1 megabyte of data, which means that even with 5 GB caps you can keep yakking all day (and all night) long and still not breach your data limit.

Secondly, Nokia had ample time to respond to my questions and all they offered was a canned response, which I included in the story. And that was after waiting for more than 48 hours. But then it is August, and many (all?) people were on vacation.

Since the story was first published, several people have come to Nokia’s defense, including some of the companies whose products were impacted. Many have reached out to me as well, and I have continued to do my own reporting for a story that will include a proper response to what I think is the bigger issue.

As for what that bigger issue is, Markus Göbel offers up teaser on his blog:

But Nokia’s new Symbian release, S60 3.2, is no option for me – as long as it has no own SIP client. It’s obvious why companies like Fring, Truphone, Gizmo5, Vyke and others are applauding the Nokia move. It ties their customer to them and makes it more difficult to use other companies’ offers. With a native SIP client, which allows to be connected to several different SIP services at the same time, I can be promiscuous. Even the most disruptive mobile VoIP companies prefer to lock me in their walled garden, but I don’t want that.