Yes, that is exactly what I meant. Thanx.
Of course, FM radios would be off-topic, and in no way pertinent to the
thread. What would have led you to think this I don't know, as I don't make
a habit of nonsense postings.
Basically, to be very clear, there is no way that most Japanese phones,
aside from the GSM-included 3G phones that are a very small percentage (less
than 10% is my best guess) of overall phones out there at the moment, could
be recycled for use outside of Japan. It is not a matter of a relatively
simple software hack, but of the radio used in both PDC and the Japanese
version of CDMA. The targets of people wanting to rip off Japanese carriers
or to send Japanese phones outside of Japan has been Vodafone (yes, my
employer). Working in the Roppongi shop for a day, I encountered several
Chinese customers who wanted to rip us off in a casual way: Buy a phone,
mostly Sharps or Sony Ericcsons, with a very low price, or even free, go in
the next day to cancel the contract, pay the 10,000 yen cancellation fee,
unlock the phone, sell it in Hong Kong for a quite reasonable price, and
pocket 15,000 or so yen. Free, relatively legal, and a real problem for
Vodafone. They even stopped selling the Sony Ericcson model to foreigners
for awhile. It is alot harder to do that on a larger scale, but I think it
is safe to say that there have been some retailers, dismayed at the level of
Vodafone sales they seem to get, who have looked for other ways of turning a
profit. Ironically, the one that Vodafone Japan were most worried about was
the Nokia handsets, which thus far have been impregnably locked to Vodafone
Japan, the unlock codes having proved impossible to crack.
So, there are a couple of obstacles to successfully selling Japanese phones
outside of Japan, though neither are completely insurmountable. It is just
not an easy market to recycle phones for use in other markets. When both
DoCoMo and Vodafone KK (soon to be Softbank Mobile) ship all of their phones
not only with UMTS compatibility, but also GSM, you will have a real
paradise, since Japanese customers only hold on to their phones for an
average of 18 months or so (I saw this in some marketing report, maybe
something Philip sent me, not from any inside information), and their old
phones, mostly ttop of line models, will be availble to one and all. As it
is, you can already find online vendors selling hacked Vodafone phones. One
thing that Vodafone and Docomo could start doing to combat this is to tie a
phone number to an IMEI number. This has been done in certain markets, and
is technically feasible. This wouldn't do anything to address the phones
being hacked and sent out of the country.
I guess the message to all this is "welcome to the wonderful world of SIM
card phones based on truly standard standards." It is not always pretty, but
it will force the market (yes, even in Japan) to either address subsidies
differently, or come up with more stringent terms (which Vodafone have done
already), or better protection on phones. Or all three. The problem with
subsidies is that every time one carrier tries to cut subsidies, the others
use that to grab more market share. What they would all probably really like
is a government edict calling it an illegal trade practise and forbidding
it, as some European countries have done. But I digress...
Hacking phone is basically an economic behaviour: The motive and opportunity
are both motivated economically. The motive is to be able to save money by
using other carriers for certain services (roaming is a big one), and the
opportunity is one that includes an economic evaluation of the potential
rewards for doing it versus the penalties.
On 9/16/06, Raphael Mazoyer <mazoye_at_wni.com> wrote:
> > This is a bit offtopic and I see no relation to software radio and
> I guess Nick was referring to the phone network radio, rather than to
> a FM radio: the chip or piece of software that makes sense of the
> carrier's GSM/CDMA/... signal, to carry your calls.
> If it's hardware (a DSP chip with the signal specs such as frequency
> and encoding hardwired into it), then the type of cell networks it
> can connect to are limited to just those it's designed to access.
> If it's software making use of more generic radio hardware, then one
> should be able to reprogram it to connect to other networks than the
> original one.
> I guess there could be some hardware radios that are actually limited
> by software, the way iPods are limited to only certain file formats
> while the hardware actually supports others. However, given a
> handset's space and power constraints, vs. the relative complexity of
> cell radio signal processing (hence price, power usage and space of
> the hardware), I suppose it's uncommon.
> Raphaël MAZOYER <mazoye_at_wni.co.jp>
> MOBILE Contents Planner Europe
> Weathernews, Inc.
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Received on Sun Sep 17 04:03:15 2006