Creating GSM Users Association (GSMUA)

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Mychaela Falconia mychaela.falconia at
Fri Jun 2 06:01:34 UTC 2017

Hi Harald,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my GSMUA idea.  I agree
with you that representing the interests of users at GSMA/ETSI/3GPP
would a task beyond our means, but I still see social value in
creating our own totally informal group purely for mutual support and
camaraderie.  Throughout human history members of various oppressed
minorities have banded together for mutual support, even if that
support is purely emotional and nothing more, and I am currently
experiencing an unmet need for such a group with regard to GSM/2G.

> Regarding your proposal: It seems like a contradiction in terms to me if
> you establish something called an 'user association' while your interest
> is (at least partially) to represent "boutique manufacturers" regarding
> IMEI allocations.

My idea of a recycled IMEI registry was just one potential application
for GSMUA, and the overall idea of GSMUA still appeals to me even if
we don't pursue the recycled IMEI registry idea.  As for representing
boutique manufacturers of end user devices in a user association
alongside with actual end users, I don't see much of a contradiction,
as the interests of the two are expected to coincide.  Boutique
manufacturers are fundamentally different from mainstream ones: while
mainstream manufs act as users' enemies for all practical purposes
(they prefer to serve the interests of carriers and/or governments
instead, and their entire "security" model sees the user as the enemy),
boutique manufs exist for no purpose except to serve the interests of
underrepresented end users, and given that FLOSS development typically
proceeds by scratching one's own itch, a real-life boutique manuf of
GSM devices will almost certainly make those devices for his or her
own personal use first and foremost, and then offer them for sale in
extremely small volume to others of a like mind.

In my original proposal I outlined the following list of parties whom
I see as the target audience for my proposed GSMUA:

* Empowered end users;
* Small boutique manufacturers for devices for said empowered end users;
* Small community and other non-mainstream network operators, i.e.,
  those who operate networks for the empowered end users and their
  FLOSS devices to connect to.

A key goal of GSMUA is to be a truly neutral meeting ground where all
of the above can come together, with everyone being equally welcome
regardless of specific project affiliation, if any.  The closest thing
that exists so far where all kinds of different people with an interest
in cellular telephony can come together are your OsmoCon and OsmoDevCon
get-togethers, but those are limited to projects that fall under the
Osmocom umbrella, and do not include non-Osmocom projects in the same
general space.  My vision for GSMUA is to be more inclusive and more
neutral, a place where people from Osmocom, FreeCalypso, OpenBTS,
YateBTS and others (as well as just persons who are simply interested
in the general subject matter, but not affiliated or involved with any
specific project) can come together (at least online if not physically)
without any of them being in a dominant position.

The very fact that this discussion we are having right now has to be
cross-posted to 3 different mailing lists is an indication of the
problem which my GSMUA proposal is meant to solve: there presently
exists no truly neutral, truly general community mailing list where
*everyone* with an interest in non-big-bucks GSM and other cellular
networks can interact with others in the same field, regardless of
whether their specific interest is in running their own network,
making their own end user phones, or just using one or both of those
as a highly intelligent, highly empowered end user, and without being
specific to any one particular project.

One specific reason why I feel there is a need for people on the
empowered-end-user mobile device side to meet with people on the
network infrastructure and network operations side is the imminent
threat of GSM/2G shutdown by the uncaring major network operators.
There exist people in the world, myself included, for whom life
without GSM/2G would be absolutely intolerable, as GSM/2G is the only
cellular technology for which there exist practically usable FLOSS
implementations on the MS/UE side.  In both USA and Canada there is
only one GSM/2G operator left, and if T-Mobile USA and Rogers
completely shut down their GSM/2G networks in another year or two, and
reallocate every last 200 kHz channel in both 1900 and 850 MHz bands
to their stinking 3G/4G/whatever services so no one else can set up
replacement community networks, users of Calypso phones will be
completely screwed.

This is where people in the OpenBTS/OpenBSC/etc projects can come to
the rescue.  As I understand it, there are both commercial and
community operators who run their own GSM/2G networks using BTS
hardware and software built and maintained by the Osmocom/OpenBTS/etc
community, and because of the imminent shutdown of GSM/2G services in
"first world" regions, I feel that a bridge needs to be built ASAP
between users of 2G-only Calypso phones on one end and those
non-mainstream community network operators on the other end.  To put
it simply, if the evil first world governments take away the last
remaining bit of spectrum from GSM/2G users, we (the latter users)
need to know which remote third world village we should flee to where
we can set up our own OpenBTS/OpenBSC/OsmoNITB/etc GSM/2G network
without having radio regulators show up with tanks the next morning to
shut it down, or where such a community network already exists.

To put the matter in perspective, I will be giving a presentation
about FreeCalypso at REcon in Montreal just two weeks from now, and
the subject of imminent GSM/2G shutdown will be unavoidable.  Unless
there exists another person in the world who is as crazy as me and who
would be willing and able to carry out a project similar to
FreeCalypso, but using leaked Qualcomm or MTK sources for some
3G-capable or even LTE-capable chip instead of TI's 2G-only ones (seems
rather unlikely to me that anyone else can be insane enough to do such
a thing), creating a GSM village in some remote 3rd world location
that would welcome refugees from the "first world" fleeing from 3G/4G
tyranny seems like the most proper solution which I should advocate for.


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