Who knows who owes whom how much money?. But ispONE appears to be trying to insulate itself from any fallout. So is Kogan.
ispONE is the exclusive wholesaler of Telstra’s 3G services, reselling to a number of other mobile carriers, including Kogan and Aldi. Its current dispute with Telstra is over invoices which it says are overcharging, but which Telstra insists are correct and unpaid.
ispONE successfully sought a temporary injunction against Telstra on Monday, and the two parties were ordered back to arbitration, this time with ispONE customers Kogan and Aldi.
If that mediation is not successful, it will be back to court. As at the time of writing, there is no resolution. But ispONE seems to be preparing for the worst. Tech forum EFTM has published an email sent yesterday from ispONE to its clients, which says in part:
“Over the past 12-18 months we have been working on a company restructure and rebrand to secure our ongoing service offering and to protect our wholesale partners.
“As part of this restructure you will notice that your invoice today is sent from iboss international. As our new brand, iboss will continue to deliver the sophisticated billing platform and modular telecommunications products that already enable you to achieve your business goals.
“Behind the scenes, it will be the same team you have always worked with and the same high quality service delivery.”
The email also says that it is sent in commercial confidence and that further information will be available in “the coming days”, presumably after the results of the battle with Telstra are finalised.
ispONE says the email and the restructure are unrelated to its battle with Telstra, though the email begins with the line: “We have been working hard to resolve a contractual issue with our upstream carrier” – meaning of course Telstra.
The largest ispONE reseller is Kogan Mobile, which has over 100,000 users and which is totally dependent upon ispONE’s relationship with Telstra to continue to service them. Yesterday Kogan sent its own email to its customers, which said in part:
“We have fought hard for the Australian consumer – there have been endless negotiations and even the occasional visit to the Supreme Court to protect our customers' interests and ensure that our customers continue to get the best deals.”
This is a reference to Kogan’s earlier victory in a court battle with ispONE, which terminated Kogan mobile customers who had gone over a data limit despite being offered an ‘unlimited’ service. The Kogan email continues:
“There are forces at play in the Australian telecommunications market that are beyond our control, very powerful and impossible to ignore. We procure our mobile services through Telstra's sole and approved distributor – ispONE. ispONE is the only company in Australia that wholesales Telstra's Prepaid 3G Services and is essential to the operation of our and any business through that network.
“Since day one, Kogan Mobile has complied with all its obligations to its service providers. We keep our agreements. We have paid every invoice on time or early. Like our customers, we expect our service providers to deliver what they have been paid for.
“Kogan Mobile has recently become aware of the following:
- Telstra is in dispute with ispONE, Telstra's sole distributor of prepaid 3G mobile services and Kogan Mobile's essential supplier
- Telstra has taken steps to terminate its contract with ispONE. If Telstra terminates its contract with ispONE this is very likely to impact Kogan Mobile's own customers' services (through no fault of Kogan Mobile).
“Kogan Mobile is doing everything it can to protect its customers. We are monitoring these developments closely, as they may affect the continuity of our prepaid mobile services.”
There will be some sort of resolution to the matter in the next day or two, but the fallout will continue much longer.