Mr. Martin tear down this wall

The rest of the world is moving toward a free, competitive mobile market where equipment and services are separate and where consumers, not carriers, rule. Meanwhile the U.S. remains a backwater under the thumb of an oppressive government regime.

breaking down the Berlin Wall in 1989
In Madrid today Trolltech announced that its Qtopia Phone Edition for Linux-based mobile phones is being ported to the Neo1973 and will be offered to individuals under GPL 2.0.

What this means, in Europe, is that Qtopia Greenphone developers have a second reference platform and form factor for mobile Linux applications, one based on a touchscreen, and OpenMoko developers have a complete development platform.

What this means in the U.S. is not much. Europeans are free to link their own phones to GSM networks, and switch carriers with them. Americans with their TDMA and CDMA networks are tied to whatever gear monopolists choose to let them buy. Change carriers and you have to buy a new phone.

Trolltech CTO Benoit Schillings told me Europeans should be quite excited by this. "The key is to provide a framework that lets the developer write appliations and ignore the specifics of the handset."

Sounds nifty, but Americans won't get any benefits from mobile open source development until carriers loosen their grip on the market. Given that Verizon has just sued to prevent any open access on new frequencies it's clear they won't do this willingly.

When words like "capitalism" and "free market" are tossed about to justify government-directed monopolies that deny consumer choice, as in wireless today, they cease to retain their original meaning, and come to mean their opposites.

The rest of the world is moving toward a free, competitive mobile market where equipment and services are separate and where consumers, not carriers, rule. Meanwhile the U.S. remains a backwater under the thumb of an oppressive government regime.

The FCC, under chair Kevin Martin, can change this. So Mr. Martin, tear down this wall. Give consumers back a free market. The power of the electromagnetic spectrum should serve competition and the people, not the oligarchs.

I want my OpenMoko.

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