Vodafone has finally provided an explanation for the removal of VoIP features from the Nokia N95, and apparently it's all for our own good. A Vodafone statement says the mobile operator doesn't offer its own VoIP service because it doesn't believe it's a mature technology.
It goes on to say it require "in-depth testing, a solid end-to-end customer experience, billing integration and customer service support which is not currently available".
You can bet that it's the lack of billing integration which is key here.
The statement goes on to explain: "There is a misleading perception that VoIP services are 'free'. This is, however, not the case when it comes to using VoIP over mobile where customers will need to use data connectivity to establish a service and may incur further charges."
Of course, Vodafone does offer a Data Unlimited tariff, but the details are hard to come by and it's expensive compared to the competition.
"Vodafone feels responsible that customers should not incur unnecessary charges when competitive mobile rates are a cost-effective choice for customers."
So using VoIP is no more expensive than normal mobile calls, and it would only confuse us if we had it, so better Vodafone takes it away.
However, the mobile operator says it's not reducing choice: "Lastly, it's important to note that customers can download VoIP applications if they choose to do so or can use VoIP services via a laptop and data card."
Stand-alone applications such as Fring continue to work fine on the N95 from Orange or Vodafone, but they don't offer near as compelling a user experience as the integrated solutions from the likes of Truphone.
Truphone said it is working on a stand-alone application for those unfortunate souls who bought their handsets from Orange or Vodafone, but until then the best option is still to get an unrestricted handset and enjoy the option of easy-to-use VoIP calls. ®