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German court bans VoiP on iPhone

'Unfair business practices'

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A VoiP application for Apple's iPhone has been banned by the Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, Germany at the behest of T-Mobile.

The app - available through Apple's iTunes App Store - allows users to make cheap phone calls using T-Mobile's Wi-Fi network and bypass roaming charges.

However, that's not why the app called Sipgate got banned. The court argues that Sipgate makes use of unfair business practices to pull customers from T-Mobile to its own services. Sipgate only runs on iPhones of the first generation up to firmware 1.1.4 and requires the "BSD Subsystem" for installation. Jailbreaking the iPhone is a violation of T-Mobile's contract terms, the court says.

Sipgate had received a cease and desist letter from T-Mobile's lawyers in July, but decided not to comply with the order. Instead, it fought back. The company said T-Mobile was misleading its customers by not telling them it offers a limited service without VoiP, IM and VPN usage. A German regional court agreed, barring T-Mobile from advertising its iPhone plans as "open internet access with unlimited data".

But now the courts have sided with T-Mobile - the ban only includes Germany. Other countries where T-Mobile is the sole provider of the iPhone, such as the Netherlands, aren't affected. ®

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