Creating GSM Users Association (GSMUA)

Mychaela Falconia mychaela.falconia at gmail.com
Tue May 9 15:37:50 UTC 2017


Hello FreeCalypso and Osmocom communities,

I am in the process of creating an informal organisation representing
the interests of those members of the GSM universe whose interests are
not represented by GSMA etc, and I am inviting you to join me in this
venture.  I propose that we name our informal organisation GSMUA,
standing for GSM Users Association, and my vision for this GSMUA is to
be a counter-body (antibody?) to the official GSMA.  I just registered
the gsmua.org domain name, but there is no website or mailing list set
up yet.  If someone from the Osmocom camp would like to host the
server infrastructure for gsmua.org, I will happily point the DNS to
you, otherwise the FreeCalypso family can host it on our server.

My vision for GSMUA is to represent the interests of GSM end users
(empowered end users who wish to fully own and control all aspects of
their user equipment while operating on public mobile networks in a
fully spec-compliant manner), small boutique manufacturers of GSM
devices (both MS/user equipment and network infrastructure), small
community network operators and others whose interests are not
represented by GSMA etc, especially in cases where our interests are
in direct conflict with the interests of big players such as giant
device manufacturers, giant commercial network operators and
governments.

A key goal of GSMUA is to be project-neutral, that is, every person
and every small company belonging to any of the categories listed
above (empowered end user, small boutique device manufacturer, small
community network operator etc) should be fully welcome regardless of
which specific project they are associated with.  As of today there
are at least two different projects offering GSM MS implementations
(OsmocomBB and FreeCalypso) and at least two different projects
offering network-side GSM implementations (Osmocom and OpenBTS), and I
hope that this number of available alternatives will continue to grow:
freedom of choice is always a good thing.  But at the present time
there exists no neutral soil on which members of different projects
with a common interest (GSM networks and devices serving the interests
of end users rather than big corporations and governments) and a
common enemy (just named) can meet, and this lack of neutral meeting
ground is the problem which GSMUA is meant to solve.

I also have one practical application for GSMUA in mind already: to
manage and legitimize recycling of wasted IMEI number ranges.  By the
official rules of GSMA etc each different *type* of GSM mobile
equipment requires a different TAC, i.e., a range of at least 1 million
IMEI numbers.  So if a small boutique GSM device manufacturer makes a
boutique MS device of which no more than 100 units will ever be made,
999900 IMEI numbers have to be wasted by the official rules.  While I
don't know of any manufacturer who got a range of 1 million IMEIs and
only made 100 devices, we do have examples like Openmoko GTA01/02 and
Pirelli DP-L10.  In the case of Openmoko GTA02 I've been told that
about 15 thousand units were made in total; in the case of Pirelli
DP-L10 it appears that the total number produced was somewhere under
100 thousand.  In each case a full range of 1 million IMEIs was
allocated, and at least 900 thousand numbers out of each range are
currently unused and wasted.

If a small boutique manufacturer wishes to offer a boutique GSM MS
product to the general public and wishes to ship each unit with a
world-unique IMEI that stands a good chance of being accepted as valid
by common GSM networks, and the product in question does not qualify
for IMEI allocation by the official rules (e.g., the product is a
development board specifically intended for users to run their own
firmware and connect to live public networks with it, taking full
personal responsibility for their actions) - the situation I found
myself in with my GSM MS development board - I feel that the small
boutique manuf in question should be empowered to squat on a small
subrange of someone else's IMEI range if it is known beyond reasonable
doubt to be wasted and unused.

However, this recycling of wasted IMEI number ranges could be better
organized and given at least some aura of semi-legitimacy if there
were a community body set up to manage it, and this is where my
proposed GSMUA can come in.  Once we get our GSMUA up and running and
assign a group of volunteers to be IMEI recycling managers, any small
GSM or 3G+ device manufacturer who needs a small range of IMEI numbers
will be able to request one from GSMUA, and we will allocate and
assign these small subranges out of whatever wasted range we decide to
squat on, ensuring that each requestor gets a different subrange.

So these are my ideas, and I would like to see them turn into reality.
We are going to need a simple website and a community mailing list at
gsmua.org, and for the IMEI recycling service we will need a small
group of volunteers to serve as its managers - I and Das Signal from
FreeCalypso will be happy to serve on that panel, but it would be nice
to also have someone from the Osmocom camp for better neutrality.

Bright Blessings,
Mychaela Falconia,
Mother of FreeCalypso


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