Mr. Martin tear down this wall

Mr. Martin tear down this wall

Summary: 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.

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breaking down the Berlin Wall in 1989In 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.

Topics: Software Development, Mobility

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3 comments
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  • Will you get an OpenMoko device?

    Dana, while I agree with your request for openness, I wonder if you'll actually get an OpenMoko device. Or will you stick to your Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia, etc.?

    I guess your point is that openness allows for choice. Choice persuades all vendors to focus on the customer vs. the bottom line.

    But if all we're doing is using devices such as OpenMoko to spur innovation by other equipment manufacturers, and not actually purchasing devices like OpenMoko, I wouldn't want to be an investor in OpenMoko!
    Savio.Rodrigues
    • OpenMoko is based on all open source stacks and cost very little to develop

      But, carriers want you to keep paying high prices for phones and dole out bandwidth with an eye dropper at very high prices. Sure, they like providing less and charging more. Is that good for customers?
      DonnieBoy
    • I just want to make free choices, period

      Savio: The carrier you choose automatically limits and defines your choices. You can't get an iPhone unless you get AT&T, for instance.

      Part of the reason for that is that U.S. networks were allowed to "compete" based on different encoding standards -- TDMA, CDMA, and GSM are all used by different U.S. carriers.

      But another reason is mere carrier preference. Verizon Wireless has been very insistent on this. And they have no technical excuse for it at all. It's purely for their own business interest. They want a pay-out on every bit, a rake-off on every handset, on and on forever and ever.

      Whether they are allowed that is a political decision. By using conservative political rhetoric against this nonsense, I hope to make that point clear.

      Thanks for writing.
      DanaBlankenhorn