AT&T is cruising for a bruising

Steve openmokolists at
Tue Sep 11 09:40:41 CEST 2007

Alexey Feldgendler wrote:
> On Mon, 10 Sep 2007 12:03:05 +0200, Raphaël Jacquot <sxpert at>
> wrote:
>> The problem was that their three Iphones were racking up a bill for
>> data charges using foreign phone charges. The Iphone regularly updates
>> e-mail, even while it's off, so that all the messages will be
>> available when the user turns it on.
> This not because Apple or AT&T are evil. It's actually a bug (or call it
> a design shortcoming) and could happen to anyone. OpenMoko should
> probably include some system-wide network access management that avoids
> huge roaming bills. Applications will normally assume that if they CAN
> establish a TCP connection, then it's OK to do so, and it's better to
> allow them think this way rather than have every application care about
> possible roaming. Otherwise one of the application developers will
> forget about it once, and we'll have a problem like Jay Levy's.

This made me think that it would be great to have a GUI in which to set
data preferences.  I'm imagining a simple view where you could easily
pick from several profiles.  Some reasonable ones would be defined on a
fresh install with a reasonable default.  (Maybe all off, or all off for
Cellular, all on for wifi/BT.)  Profiles should be customizable in two
levels, a simple category based level, and a fine grained individual
application level (the advanced settings mode) with a catchall/undefined
category in both versions.

Profile application:

There should be a map screen where you could define different profiles
for different geographic regions by drawing them. (This would allow you
to prevent international roaming data charges easily)  With an advanced
mode for defining different profiles at different times as well as
physical location and possibly carrier.

Profile customization:

In the simple mode, allow on/off by application category, physical
location, GSM carrier, non-cellular data connection.

In advanced mode, allow on/off/rate limit (IE 200K/day) by category,
individual application, location, GSM carrier, wifi, and BT.


Should the time/location/carrier be part of the profile, part of the
application of the profile, or both? (Both would likely be confusing)

Should the profile control everything and not have a separate
application of profiles step?  (I think the separate step makes it
easier for lay people, while the part of me editing config files in /etc
doesn't want it.)

Is there too much in the simple mode?

How is this done technically?  (I agree that trusting each application
to follow the rules is probably a bad idea.  Especially since we let
anyone install anything.  This could be done with SE Linux, but there's
probably a better way.)


It should be easy for a novice user to pick up the phone and turn data
usage completely on and off at will, at least for cellular.


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