3G? What about CDMA?

Kevin Dean kevin at foreverdean.info
Wed Apr 16 22:21:23 CEST 2008

On Wed, Apr 16, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Ben Burdette <bburdette at comcast.net> wrote:
> Steven ** wrote:
> > I don't see how GSM is much less "closed" of a network protocol than
> > CDMA (the interchangeable SIM cards being the big difference).  The
> > GSM chip is the most locked down hardware on the Neo.  A CDMA chip
> > would be no different.
> >
> >
>  Actually the situation here IS very different, because of that
> interchangability.  With a GSM phone, its the SIM that allows you on the
> network.  You can (theoretically at least), go down to the T-Mobile store
> and get their bottom-of-the-line 20$ phone, then take it home and put the
> SIM into your neo, with T-Mobile being none the wiser.

I have a SIM from my old T-Mobile phone in my Neo. They DO know it's
not that phone, but they chose to let me on the network anyway. On the
flip side, the iPhone is a GSM phone but (without hacking) it's unable
to be used off the network it was locked to. Even off "big ticket"
items like the iPhone, a lot of GSM phones are shipped with firmware
that prevents it from being used on other networks. In the USA cell
carriers subsidize the purchase of the handset and use the firmware to
incentivize purchasing phones with more features (like SMS or
internet, which they charge for if you utilize).

This situation, IMO, is irrelevant because it's essentially saying
"Any compatible technology used on a provider that lets you use your
phone there works" which is true with both CDMA and GSM. It's the
larger potential pool of devices that ARE compatible, and the larger
pool of providers that DO allow it. Assuming all carriers had similar
policies, and CDMA was the most popular technology, I'd not say the
technology was closed.

It is the mobile ecosystem, viewed worldwide, that would mean less
choice on a CDMA device, not the CDMA technology itself.

>  With CDMA, you will not be able to use your phone on their network unless
> they say ok.

This is also true of GSM. It would be stupid to adopt ANY technology
that didn't give you the ability to reject who could use it. If the
carrier didn't have ultimate control then they'd not be able to boot
non-paying people from using their network. It is not the technology
but the policy of the carriers that allows this movement.

> This means I can't use my old CDMA sprint phone on my new
> verizon account.

I'm assuming that it's POSSIBLE (how often it happens is irrelevant)
to make a device that COULD work on both Sprint or Verizon if their
policies permitted it using CDMA technology. If CDMA isn't compatible
with itself, it's not a single standard.

> If I switch back to sprint, my verizon phone won't work
> anymore.  If openmoko was CDMA but sprint and verizon decide they don't like
> the openness of the openmoko phones, you're SOL.

If T-Mobile in the USA decided not to allow non-Tmobile phones on
their network you'd be JUST as SOL. This is a policy issue and not a
technology one.

>  GSM gives the users choice
> as to what phone they want to run, and takes that choice away from the
> carrier.
> > As far as the aims of the Openmoko project, I don't see how CDMA
> > conflicts with that.  I thought one of the aims of Openmoko was to
> > show people the benefits of opensource, mobile computing.  It seems
> > odd to give people choices over everything but the service provider.
> >
> >
>  You can choose any service provider you want - as long as they are on GSM.
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