Expressing hope that the next-gen Openmoko hardware might support 3G/3.5G/HSDPA when it arrives

Justyn Butler justynbutler+openmoko at
Sun Nov 23 21:22:46 CET 2008

2008/11/14 Wolfgang Spraul <wolfgang at>:
> How does all this relate to GTA03?
> Well, on one hand internally we work around the clock as if we are
> trying to start mass production of GTA03 next month. Sean would
> certainly love to mass produce improved hardware _ANY TIME_ :-) Sean
> always pushes us to work faster and get things done. On the other hand
> it's such a huge task. A 100% free and open mobile platform. Thousands
> of details. And a very small internal engineering force.
> I have around 30 internal engineers. The typical mobile platform
> (Nokia/Symbian, WinMobile/HTC, Android/HTC, RIMM, Apple) has over 1000.
> Is Openmoko planning to hire the missing 970? No. We can only hire
> very carefully as the current sales of GTA02 allow us to do. Otherwise
> we would endanger the openness of the platform.
> The other 970 must come from our community, and increasingly they are.
> So by buying Freerunners, fixing or writing up bugs, helping to
> document more aspects of the phone, you help us all get to GTA03 faster.
> When will GTA03 come out? You tell me. You, and the rest of the
> community influence it more than you can imagine.
> We have decided to make changes to the hardware only incrementally,
> along product lines of our current chip vendors whenever possible, so
> that as much as possible of the software effort can carry over. We
> have decided to focus our internal software engineering on the low
> level, so that we leverage our insider knowledge about the hardware
> and schematics, while relying on the larger Free Software community to
> help with higher-level software.
> You say the current software is a 'joke', which is painful for me but
> I accept it. From where we all want to be it's a joke, yes. Agreed.
> So that also answers your question when GTA03 will come out. It's a
> long way, maybe another year.

I personally find the news that Openmoko are focusing on the
Freerunner and the current software stack, rather than pushing the
next model out of the door, very reassuring. It is great for all the
people who have supported Openmoko by buying a Freerunner.

However if Openmoko do release the next model later than originally
thought it will delay when the generation after it (GTA04) is brought
out. So I'm still holding onto the hope that they might swap out the
new EDGE modem in the upcoming GTA03 for a 3.5G/HSDPA device instead.
The later that the GTA03 comes out to buy, the bigger a deal it will
be if it doesn't support 3G (and 3.5G) technologies.

I understand that there are multiple factors at stake here, but I do
hope Openmoko are giving the connectivity of the phone the weighting
it deserves. For some parts of the world 3.5G is still unimportant due
to lack of good, affordable HSDPA access. Some people cannot
understand why others make such a big fuss about it. However, for an
increasing portion of the market it is becoming expected in any new
"smart" phone.

And please believe me, I understand that everyone has their own
personal wishlist of things that they think it is important to have in
the new Openmoko hardware. And while I may feel that the connectivity
of the device is of special importance because it is a phone, others
will disagree.

But I have a feeling that the "3G supporters" have become a little
underrepresented in the community because so many people for whom it
is a critical feature have moved on from Openmoko, saying "I'll check
back in a couple of years", because we have been told that 3G won't be
in the next-generation device either. And what is the point of staying
involved if it will be literally years before there is a model that
meets this "essential" (for those in this category) need.

I have several friends who are enthusiastic Linux users and supporters
(and developers) of open hardware, and Openmoko. But two have already
given in and invested in HSDPA enabled phones (one bought, to our
surprise, an iPhone). They don't check the OM mailing lists or make
their voice heard. They have "moved on". Yet they would still buy from
Openmoko if it surprised them with an open hardware + FOSS phone with

So this email is about making sure that it is known that there is a
market of people who have suspended their hope in OM for the time
being but will come rushing back once it can offer 3.5G (I pretty much
use the terms 3G, 3.5G and HSDPA interchangeably as Apple seem to).

I know that Harald Welte is a big supporter of better connectivity in
Openmoko and is working in his spare time to get a proprietary 3.5G
phone running the Openmoko stack (see his blog post here:
). This might turn out to be a fix for some of us but we would still
not feel we were supporting Openmoko properly - we want to buy the
hardware from them.


ps. I am a Neo1973 owner

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