Creating a real usable phone using OsmocomBB

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Harald Welte laforge at
Tue Dec 13 17:09:02 UTC 2011

Hi Martin,

On Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 06:01:44PM +0100, Martin Hinner wrote:

>  my 2 cents to the topic: I think the discussed situation (or target
> audience) will change rapidly if there is open-source "mobile phone",
> easy-to-configure, but for modern "low-cost" chipsets. Chinese
> manufacturers will then very likely use the code for mass-production.
> With CE certification/etc. I think that most of low-cost phones that
> come from China use Infineon ULC eGOLDvoice or MTK.

Why do you think so?  The chipset vendors provide their GSM stack
together with the chips anyway.  I would argue that it is even difficult
to get components (in quantity) + data sheets etc. from them _without_
also getting the baseband stack from them.

So why would any vendor be interested in switching to another stack?

Also, always remember, we have no GPRS/EDGE support, and we won't have
it any time soon due to the size of the task at hand.

>  I know one importer of Chinese phones who was complaining about
> problems during development (mainly user interface stuff). Having
> possibility to use open-source and change it the way they like would
> definitely be interesting for them.

Without wanting to insult anyone here, my experience in the industry
shows that no importer, not even the chinese phone manufacturers
typically have any where near the skills required to do meaningful
modifications to the GSM stack of a mobile phone.

The typical situation is to the opposite:  They run to MTK with all of
their issues, because they cannot even resolve the most simple one.
After all, they are hardware mass-manufacturing companies, and not
die-hard communications protocols and/or OS developers.

>  And regarding argument about legality of modifying firmware in WiFi
> devices, there is a huge difference. Re-flashing AP with Linux
> (openwrt/etc) does not change anything in RF layer. osmocomBB is now
> mostly about playing with RF :-).

I think you may be mistaken about a lot of the 'softmac', see

In fact, a lot of wifi chips don't have any baseband firmware, but
simply let the driver/stack take care of that. 

Also see on
that subject.

- Harald Welte <laforge at> 
"Privacy in residential applications is a desirable marketing option."
                                                  (ETSI EN 300 175-7 Ch. A6)

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