Bye bye O2 (Telefonica), welcome Vodafone

Telefonica, a mobile operator from Spain recently gained very much power, not only in Spain and Latin American countries but also in Europe. Especially UK and Germany.

I am writing this post becausse I wanted to show how it’s possible for an operator to cut your calling freedom. The story is the following:

Usually in Germany, everything is charged extra:

Using an iPhone as a modem? (tethering), does cost you extra. Using VoIP (Skype, etc) on your iPhone? forbidden until you pay for it extra. Using your SIM card to browse the internet on a notebook? You could, but guess what… they try to charge you extra. This goes on with many other things….

This is why I decided to leave German Telekom as a provider in March 2010 as O2 Germany was the only one allowing EVERYTHING without extra charge.

Since I knew back then that E-PLus blocked the free call-back service “Rebtel”, I asked O2 whether they do the same. I was ASSURED that this is not the case and never will as Rebtel uses national landline numbers and such are covered by my free national landline calling plan!

And this is what happned a month ago:

When I assigned a new local landline number to a friend’s mobile phone in Bulgaria, I received an automatic message telling me that the number I dialed is no proper landline number annd might be charged as it isn’t covered in the landline flatrate I do have.

Wondered by this I called the customer service hotline the same evening. I was told that there is something wrong with the number Rebtel assigned and it doesn’t seem to be properly registered. [……] … and even Googling the number brings no result. (OH sure, google is the new phone number validator!).

I didn’t believe this at all…….. So I emailed Rebtel about it. And below are their replies. (My email continues below!).

On Wed, 26 Oct 2011 16:41:25 +0200, Rebtel blackberry[at] wrote:

> Thank you for contacting us!

> > I will be happy to help you with your questions.


> O2 is not blocking our numbers, however, they are charging 0.09 cents to their customers who called our numbers. I have therefore now changed the local number which were assigned to your contacts so you now have a new contact list with new numbers.


> Please try calling this numbers and get back to us with the results.


> We are currently in discussions with O2 about how to resolve this issue. We provide Rebtel service in almost 60 countries and have had no problems with any operator apart from O2 in Germany in the last few years. > > Rest assured that we will be bringing this up with Neelie Kroes (VP of Digital Agenda in European commission), who has a very harsh view against operator pressure and unfair competition, since we strongly believe that O2 are abusing their market position.

> > > Please feel free to contact us if you need further information

> > Kind Regards,

> > Janine > Rebtel Customer Support Team

I want to stress the fact that indeed I know what I am talking about. I worked for an ISP and telephony provider in the technical department for years, I read routing tables, troubleshooted connection issues, red SIP communication dumps, etc!

O2’s brilliance doesn’t stop here, I remember a case of last year where I couldn’t exchange SMS between me and friends in Peru.

They asked me to contact Claro Peru instead. So I sent them an email and forwarded their reply back to O2.

A few days later O2 called me and told they cannot read the email, because Claro Peru wrote in English HAAHAHAHA and so they cannot help me?

In the end, after 8 months (!) they fixed the routing problems. If you have experienced similar issues with O2, Telefonica, i.e. one of their national service brands feel free to share with me, I would gladly listen:

I have decided to cancel my contract with O2 and will then continue with Vodafone (as German Telekom is too expensive for the services I want!).

Contact me at nafcom[at]

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