T-Mobile suspends Facebook 'chat' service

T-Mobile USA has temporarily suspended its Facebook voice-chatting service while it works out design issues with Facebook. T-Mobile says it's unclear to users that it's powering the service.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

T-Mobile has temporarily shut down its newly introduced voice-chatting service for Facebook users.

The company launched the new VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) chat service, which it calls Bobsled, less than a week ago. The service is embedded into Facebook and allows Facebook friends to call each other through the Facebook Chat window.

T-Mobile is suspending the service because the company believes that in Facebook's current design it's not clear that the service is from T-Mobile.

"We are voluntarily and temporarily suspending the Bobsled service as we work with our partners at Facebook to address their design questions, including working to ensure that the Bobsled experience is clearly differentiated and is not mistaken for a Facebook created property," T-Mobile said in a statement, which it posted on a Facebook page for the service. "We apologize to our customers for this temporary disruption in service."

A T-Mobile spokesman declined to respond to additional questions about the decision.

T-Mobile launched the Bobsled service last week, and said that it would be the first of many new communication services the company plans to launch using VoIP technology. Initially, Bobsled only allowed Facebook users to chat with other Facebook friends. People can also leave voice messages for friends, which show up on their wall. But T-Mobile said it plans to expand the service to include video chatting and also allow people to use the service to call cell phones and landline phones.

T-Mobile also said the Bobsled platform will power T-Mobile's Group Text and Cloud Text applications on the new T-Mobile Sidekick 4G. The Group Text feature lets subscribers create, name, manage, and participate in reply-all group text conversations. The Cloud Text service allows customers to text from other platforms, such as a PC or tablet.

Last month, AT&T announced it plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. As regulators evaluate the deal, T-Mobile says it will continue to compete in the market with new services and devices. The Bobsled service was T-Mobile's most recent attempt.