2008.8 + international roaming: tickles qpe dialer/registration bugs

Russell Sears sears at cs.berkeley.edu
Thu Sep 11 07:49:07 CEST 2008

I noticed that 2008.8 couldn't register for the first few boots each 
time I moved my freerunner from one country to another.

First I'd see one of these three GSM messages (typing from memory) each 
time I booted and tried to make a call.  (Each started with something 
like "Can't make call; couldn't connect to gsm network.")

Not registered
No network
Network permission denied

I got some of these messages after getting a SMS message from the local 
cell network.  (The SMS said welcome to the vodafone network / country, 
and I only got it once...)

After a few boots it registered, but qpe crashed when I tried to place a 

After ~ 24 hours in the same city it made calls reliably.

At home, before the trip, I saw the same behavior the first few times I 
booted 2008.8/qtopia (same day).  I had been using 2007.2 without 
problems before trying qtopia.  A bit later, I tried an updated 2008.8 
and it was reliable.  Interestingly, when I returned, it again broke for 
~ 24 hours, then started to work reliably again.

I have T-Mobile in the US, and roamed to Vodafone networks in 900MHz 

Here's my wild guess as to what's going on:

- First few boots to 2008.8 (but not boots to 2007.2, and perhaps FSO) 
causes cell providers to initiate unusual handshaking

- Moving from country to country initiates more unusual handshaking.

- When qpe sees the handshaking (unknown messages from the modem), it dies.

The schedule was:

start in US.

3 hours in country A
  - 2-3 calls / registration attempts failed

2 weeks in country B, roaming from city to city, always same provider
  - first registration failed, then during later boots, calls failed
  - dialer worked ~ 24 hours after first attempt

return to US
  - calls/registration failed for ~ 24 hours

I hope this helps shed some light on the mysterious qtopia dialer 
problems people are seeing.


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