back to article Orange and Vodafone cripple Nokia's flagship

Nokia N95 handsets supplied by Orange and Vodafone, in the UK, have had their VoIP capability removed in what looks like a desperate move by the network operators to defend their voice revenue. Each operator has their own variant of the software pre-installed on a phone handset to allow them to pre-load branding or particular …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    are u kidding me?

    why should voda or orange be expected to not only subsidize the cost of both handset and network and then be excoriated because they won't let you make free phone calls on said network? am i missing something here? tell you what. why don't we all make complaints about "choice" to the authorties the next time we tuck into a full meal at claridges and then decide not to pay the bill. did we really believe the notion that operators were actually going to allow free SIP calling over their networks? things will change - for better or worse for the operators - but not in the wishful thinking ways of truphone, fon, skype, etc.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    duh data!

    How exactly are VoIP calls free when you are paying the cell co's exorbitant data rates?

  3. Lloyd

    As I've previously said

    I've been with Orange for 12 years and next month I'm telling them to stick their contract where the sun don't shine. Since they've been taken over by our garlic eating friends from over La Manche their customer services has been non existant, to the extent that they removed me from the contract I was on without telling me (because they changed everything to this dolphin, cobra, duck billed platypus cr@p) and then tried to sign me up for another 12 months on the new schemes, thus stiffing me royally.

  4. lee caller

    N95 - Totally Useless !

    My N95 is about to go back. The phone itself crashes constantly, the firmware needs updating I'm told by the Nokia service centre but they cant do it as it'll remove the crippled software and they aren't allowed to do this to keep the "network relationship" .

    So this leaves me with a broken phone who's gps is woeful and camera doesn't focus all because of a firmware patch Vodafone say Nokia is not allowed to install..

  5. Ben Haines

    The point is not about revenue protection

    The point to this story is not about revenue protection which I can understand, but rather the fact that Orange and Vodafone have removed functionality from the phone without advising customers.

    The SIP feature was a major factor for me choosing the N95. Had Orange had been up front about the issue I would have changed networks, simple as that.

    I'm a thoroughly pissed off Orange customer!!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Costomer MUST be fully informed.

    As the previous anonymous poster said, the mobile phone networks should not be under an obligation to subsidize phones that might harm their revenue, but if they sell a phone that has some of it;s features crippled or removed, they should be obliged to inform the customer of that.

    i.e. If I walk into an Orange shop and express an interest in buying a Nokia N95, the sales man should say then and there, that the Orange version has been modified from the standard Nokia spec, that some features have been removed, and what is different. There should not be any requirement on me to say which features I am after, I should be able to expect all the features that appear on Nokia's website and other advertising. Also, the network should not be able to get around the requirement by having a slightly different model number, as people are used to seeing that for products that are the same.

    There is currently quite a lot of Buzz online about the N95, and different people are interested in different features, it would be quite unfair for people to get locked into long contracts for phones that don't do all that they wanted, just because they where not explicit in store about the features they want.

    I hope not, but perhaps in future it will be necessary to take a manufacturer's spec sheet to the store, and get the salesman to sign it to the effect that all stated features are present, just to make sure that you get what you expect.

  7. Kevin Peacock

    This isn't a kidding matter

    Why should anyone be kidding?

    Even if you use VOIP, you are still using their network and paying the costs of doing so in line rental and data charges.

    If it is cheaper to do it that way, then why don't the networks embrace that and cut their prices all round?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't the first time

    My Orange Nokia N80 has had it's SIP and VOIP functions disabled. All very disappointing since I was hoping to be able to use it in my office over it's wireless connection. I wasn't trying to scam free calls out of them or anything, I just like the idea of getting both my desk phone and mobile phone to ring at the same time on the same incoming number.

    Apparently with a little jiggery-pokery I can flash the Orange firmware and install a generic version, but it seems like a lot of bother and I'll almost certainly wreck the phone in the process...

    Nothing is ever simple. I'd have thought this kind of functionality would be a boost to Orange. Surely there are multi-handset businesses out there that would love a truly integrated desk/mobile phone system. Apparently not...


  9. daniel

    operator profits?

    All of the operators want to keep their voice revenues as high as possible... and in my opinion, the fact that the phone is "subsidised" is in a lot of cases a blatent lie.

    Why do "pay as you go" recharge cards cost more per minute than a subscriber phone? There is nothing to subsidise in this case, so the extra cost is pure profit, but with the risk (to the operator) of the phone user bugging out to another operator when the credit has expired - A pay as you go plan should be cheaper, especially if you already own the phone, and if it was, they would have more happy customers.

    Why do a lot of phone renewal plans (that lock you into a multi-year contract upon renewal...) cost as much or more than an unlocked & unbranded phone from e-tailers on the innerneck (even or Lidl's low cost stores)?

    All of these mobile operators make money out of selling you somthing "cheap" and lots of it. Sell flat rate plans, and you will get happy customers, and you would keep your customers if you were the only operator proposing this sort of offer - but maybe not happy shareholders, and since when did a mobile company (or isp?) really care supplying value & quality to it's customers?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how long...

    they are going to keep this up?

    after all, everything is going VoIP and if they are going to disable VoIP funktionality, those people who do use it are just going to get anoyed and go away.

    One musn't forget, that a lot of sales come indirectly from techies who are being asked, "who do you think is the best provider?"

    it's always the same.

    I think this was a really bad move, and can only hope, that vodafone will come to their senses.

  11. Ross Aitken

    Spineless PR whelps

    I totally understand (and retrospectively expect, if that makes sense) their decision. But I would have had more respect for them as companies if their spokespeople had been open about the obvious-to-all reasons why. All they had to do was say with a chuckle 'of course we're not going to pay for you to make free calls'. Instead they look at their feet and mumble about simplicity.

    Spineless to the point of insulting.


  12. Ernest

    err false advertising?

    Well the problem is Nokia advertise their phone as VoIP capable. And they give it to Vodaphone and Orange as VoIP capable. Although the above service providers dont advertise VoIP. But they also dont advertise the fact that it is disabled. which imo at the very least is really cheeky.

    basically its like selling you a bog standard mobile that has SMS text messaging disabled. wouldnt you be up in arms?

  13. zedee

    Not just the N95

    The E65 has been fiddled with too, on Vodafone.

    It doesn't allow SIP to go via the WiFi connection or something, and just hangs.

    For an all-singing, all-dancing full-strength business handset, it takes the mick.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We need to encourage competition

    It seems to me that we the phone buying public roll over too easily to anything the operators do 'because they've subsidised the handsets'

    They might give you a cheaper phone, but only if you sign a contract and pay them £50 or whatever every month for 18 months. It's hardly altruistic behaviour!

    Imagine if you bought a PC and found that you could only use the manufacturer's email solution

    Fair competition means innovation flourishes and prices keep low

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobbled N95s

    The key point here is you can't sell someone an N95, which is not actually an N95. I have just preordered an N95 from Orange and they said it was an N95. I even asked if it supported VoIP?

    So if I get an N95 that has been nobbled I will send it back and then I'll probably terminate my contract, so rather than losing a little revenue off the top, they'll lose a customer that they have had for 11 years. I am sure I am not alone amongst these operators' customers.

    Re Claridges, I think the point is people WILL pay the bill every time they eat there, but reserve the right to eat elsewhere too

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WiFi and VOIP in one device makes them nervous

    Its the fact you can make SIP based VOIp calles over your Broadband WiFi connection that makes them want ot take this off devices Because then they really do get no revenue for the call.

    But hey wake up Orange and Voda its they way of the future, you cannot control it all, and for Orange who are a major supplier of Broadand and VOIP services this seems really stupid, just plain dumb.

    I mean, what a great plus for Orange if they sold this phone with their Broadband and their Livebox router so you can make calls over their Broadabnd using thier VOIP service.

    But then that would be expecting dafty marketing people to be able to put 2 and 2 together and see the future of mobile telcoms, not something most marketing people are good at.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mr duh data!

    Mr duh data!

    It's free (ish) because of the wi-fi built into the phone as in you can use it like a skype phone through your home/work internet connection... or through 'hot spots' when out and about..

    It's not surprising really that they did this, I'm sure someone will find a way to unlock the phones soon enough though. I bet a lot of people will be annoyed tho!

    I just paid vodafone £20 to get my new N73 unlocked, i wonder if they'd let you do the same with these phones??

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I also wonder...

    ... how many people would actually use the Wi-Fi/Voip capabilities of these handsets anyway??

    Sure most el-reg readers might and all other savvy techies etc... but most of the general public will probably be very happy with the shiny new handset they just got that has a 5mpx camera they can take shiny pictures of their friends with or play some new cr@p mp3 ringtone they just got in super stereo or something

    So on that note I think they can continue to cripple phones for a while yet till people realise they can do more.... hmmm

    Also I agree with all the comments about the fact that the phones are subsidised massively already, these must be what.. £300-400 odd handsets? Which will probably be availiable for free on medium tarrifs soon enough... so you can understand why the mobile providers don't want to give something else out for them to lose money on!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    T-Mobile are happy to allow customers on their Web'n'Walk Max tariff to use VoIP on their handsets (such usage is advertised as part of the tariff package). With unlimited data (10gig a month 'fair usage') data usage is not really an issue. This is why I changed from Orange (after 9 years) to T-Mobile 6 months ago. Just fyi, the relevant T-Mobile tariff costs £55pcm.

  20. Kevin Hall

    People expect too much

    I think the networks have every right to restrict access to services that essentially compete with themselves. They're giving you a very expensive phone that's been subsidised to 100% so you can hardly blame them. This kind of "crippled" feature is no different to the fact that phones are locked to their parent network. You can't expect Vodafone to give you a free N95 and then use it on a cheaper network. Parasitic customers like these are the bane of every mobile company.

    The logic about Pay As You Go is also nonsense. Nearly all PAYG phones are subsidised to a degree by the parent network. They do charge marginally more (T-mobile charge PAYG 2p a minute more than contracts) but PAYG customers cost more to administrate, have a higher churn rate and generally spend much less on calls. The Marxist argument might be the poorer end always subsidises the better off but It think it's unlikely in this case.

    The answer is obvious to all the gadget obsessed crybabies who want a free N95 - if your credit cards weren't all maxed out you'd just need to buy a sim-free model. As it is you seem to expect endless upgrades and handouts that all other customers have to pay for indirectly. This just highlights the bigger issue that subsidised phones should be completely stamped out.

  21. Stephen Kapp

    This is nothing new from Vodafone

    Vodafone have disabled the VoIP client built into the Nokia 6680, Nokia E61 and pretty much anything they sell that has Series 60 on. However it is easily fixed by having the phone reflashed with a generic Nokia firmware...

  22. Steve Sutton

    Not the first time Orange has screwed with a phone

    I've had problems with Orange changing software on phones before, with what (IMHO at least) is a big pile of crap, about 2 years ago, when the Nokia 6680 first came out. It was nothing to do with VOIP, just a case of putting a crappy menu system / 'home' screen. Finally, after the 12-month contract had expired I managed to persuade my local Nokia Service Centre to replace it with the original firmware as Nokia Themselves intended it.

    I have now come to the decision that I will never again buy a handset from a network, but instead pay full price for a SIM free/Generic handset, and take it to a network which doesn't charage ridiculous up front monthly charges to subsidise handsets. (Unfortunately, this won't help with VOIP, as this basically means using Virgin, who currently charge me a rate equivalent to £5 per Megabyte!!!)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new here

    I had a Sony Ericsson K750i from Vodafone. Sony Ericsson specs say phone can play MP3s and MP3s can be used as ringtones. Vodfone version had all MP3 capabilities nobbled. A utility from Da Vinci Team and some firmware flashing soon had original Sony Ericsson firmware running enabling full specs. At end of contract I told Vodafone where to go and I will never return.

  24. TDJP

    What's the difference...

    You could go to one of the Telcos, get a Windows Mobile Smartphone/PDA (like the O2 XDA, which has WiFi) install any VOIP app you want then connect to a hotspot or your home network and make free calls. The N95 should be no different. If you got a Smartphone/PDA from Orange or Voda you would expect this to be available as it is a standard feature of that particular phone. If they disabled WiFi what would you say?

    These companies already make plenty of money from us with monthly subscriptions and pathetic charges for data usage through dodgy 3G connections so why should we not be allowed to do with our phones as we will? The cost of an unsubsidised phone may be £300-400 to us but you can bet that they pay nothing like that to the manufacturers.

    They still turn massive profits for their shareholders despite supposedly losing money on handsets.

    Orange and Voda are being greedy, dishonest and pathetic, they'll never get me as a customer.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The phones are not "free". You pay the subsidy back over the minimum contract period with inflated line rental.

    You still frequently pay the same rates (or only slightly less) if you already have a phone and don't want a new one or after the minimum term is up.

  26. Ben Pope

    Crippled Phones

    I recently purchased a W950i on Orange, but much to my dismay, it was not a W950i. A W950i comes with Opera 8 installed, at least according to Sony Ericsson, Opera and UIQ. So when my phone didn't come with that browser, but some useless other thing that doesn't allow me ot enter a URL and with a compleely useless search function, I was very disappointed.

    At no point was a I told that the "W950i" I was being sold was crippled somehow. Now Orange tell me that they reserve the right to remove software, and I'm too late to do anything about it (after 7 days!) and have basically refused to to any more. It's dishonest, and I'm very tempted to inform Consumer Direct, and elevate this to Trading Standards.

    Just who do they think they are? This stuff is basically false advertising and as such illegal.

    Anyway, I've paid about £4 to debrand the phone and flashed with the worldwide firmware, so at least I now have what I thought I was getting.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Bought mine just under 2 weeks ago on Vodafone via phones4u. Completely mis-sold, and not just the non-existent VOIP I wanted.

    So, the shiny new N95 is going back. Voda can keep their £40/mo contract. Ripoff!

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unlocked doesnt mean unbranded..

    "Posted Wednesday 18th April 2007 12:16 GMT - It's not surprising really that they did this, I'm sure someone will find a way to unlock the phones soon enough though. I bet a lot of people will be annoyed tho!

    I just paid vodafone £20 to get my new N73 unlocked, i wonder if they'd let you do the same with these phones??"

    Just because you have the phone sim unlocked, this doesn't remove any Network supplied branding. The VOIP will probably still be disabled.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Debranding your phone

    You can flash your phone with generic software by following the instructions on this website:

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contract vs PAYG and that old chesnut subsidys

    Why do "pay as you go" recharge cards cost more per minute than a subscriber phone? There is nothing to subsidise in this case, so the extra cost is pure profit!

    Although I agree to an extent with your comments Daniel, what you have negleted to mention is that the networks offer great incentives for reguler top ups. i.e. Orange will give you 600 off peak on-net mins and 300 anytime x-net texts for a reg top up of just £10!!! Plus your £10 is still there for those other calls you need to make. Worse case scenario, if you use all your £10 to ring x-net it would equate to approx 30 mins!

    Show me a contract which would give you 600 off peak on-net mins, 300 anytime x-net texts and 30 mins anytime x-net for £10 per month!

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