[kwlug-disc] android phone, anyone?

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Thu Dec 17 21:54:45 EST 2009

On Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 9:29 PM, Bob Jonkman <bjonkman at sobac.com> wrote:

> I expect that the other carriers will eventually offer more advanced phones
> that also cover the AWS spectrum.  It may even reach the point where other
> carriers will eventually make use of those frequencies themselves.

I am not sure that would happen. Adding extra frequencies in a phone costs
money, so the cost of handsets will go up if they are five-band or more.

Plus, the way it is done in North America is that spectrum is auctioned off.
I assume that whoever buys a portion of the spectrum has exclusive use for
it. So why would carriers operating at the "normal " frequencies bother to
add support for their competitors while the whole North American way of
doing business is lock the handset to us, and make it a 3 year contract!

Does anyone know if the AWS frequencies will be rolled out in Europe and
> Asia, or are those frequencies already assigned to some other purpose there?

I don't know for sure, but don't think there is a need at all. The "handset
works only with one carrier" mentality is exclusively North American. In the
rest of the world, handsets confirm to a standard (GSM) and all carriers
support that standard. So in other words all carriers operate on the same
frequencies. There is no need to operate on different frequencies.

There is no such thing as a locked/unlocked phone in most of the world. They
are all unlocked by default. Only here do we face this whole artificial

There are 2 frequencies that GSM uses worldwide (900 and 1800 MHz). In the
USA and Canada, there are 2 more frequencies (850 and 1900 MHz) and hence
the need for quad band phones if one wants their phone to work abroad.


For AWS, just imagine a parallel internet that you have to connect to if you
want to (say) access Google and Youtube. This is how it is appalling here
with cell phones!

As phones continue to become more sophisticated they'll contain radios
> capable of transmitting at AWS frequencies.  AWS is a lower frequency than
> WiFi, so I don't see a technical limitation.

Again, I think that AWS is a North American thing only. Therefore, there is
no need outside of that region to have support for it. And handsets that
have it will cost more.

The biggest problem will be carriers like Bell and Rogers that won't accept
> open phones, and cripple their own phones to disable the use of AWS.

If a phone supports the 2 above North American frequencies, then it will
work with Rogers. If a phone adds AWS, then it should work with that too.
Rogers will not add AWS in their phones because it allows customers to
switch to a competitor. For cripe's sake: they don't even allow a handset to
work with their own Fido subsidiary!

> Hopefully Wind Mobile will allow open phones or unlocked phones from other
> vendors on their network.

They said regular unlocked GSM phones will NOT work, at least for now.



> Wind Mobile has already said they'll be locking their phones initially,
> until they have enough market penetration that they no longer need to depend
> on phone sales.

I think it is because their towers use AWS, and the handsets have to support
that too. So regular unlocked phones will not work because of the frequency
mismatch. I am not expert though, so I could be wrong.

> Even though Wind Mobile will be offering contractless service, I think the
> up-front phone price is still below sustainability unless they sell some air
> time too.  The fear is that customers will buy the phones, and then the
> other carriers will undercut prices to lure those customers away (so, no
> air-time sales).  That should be diminished if the phones are locked.  There
> was also talk of the other carriers buying up all the phone stock so there
> wouldn't be any left for legitimate Wind customers (and so, no air-time
> sales).

If they had support for normal GSM via unlocked phones, I would switch to
given their cheaper prices. But that is not an option so far.

> --Bob.
> Bob Jonkman <bjonkman at sobac.com>         http://sobac.com/sobac/
> SOBAC Microcomputer Services              Voice: +1-519-669-0388
> 6 James Street, Elmira ON  Canada  N3B 1L5  Cel: +1-519-635-9413
> Software   ---   Office & Business Automation   ---   Consulting
> Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
>> If you ever travel, specially outside of Canada/USA, then GSM is the
>> standard to have. If you have a handset that can do GSM (tri-band or
>> quad-band) then you are good for most of the world.
>> What this means is that you can buy a local SIM card and pop it
>> into your handset and you are good to go.
>> Prices are far cheaper in other parts of the world than here, for example
>> I am told that a SIM card (effectively a phone number and a prepaid plan)
>> is 10 LE in Egypt (that is CAD $1.92), and you can load it with 25 LE
>> (that
>> is CAD $4.81!) for 100 minutes.
>> This beats roaming charges which can rack up in the 100s.
>> Only Rogers and Fido have world standard GSM in Canada.
>> A new player that opened for business yesterday is WIND Mobile. I was
>> initially happy to hear that a new entrant is coming the the market. They
>> are backed by an Egyptian magnate who made lots of money putting cell
>> phone networks in many parts of the world.
>> My enthusiasm was dampened after I found out that they operate in the
>> AWS spectrum which is non-standard in the rest of the world (i.e. not
>> GSM compatible). What this means is that unlocked phones will not
>> work with them, meaning they have less handset choices and you have
>> to buy it from them (something that is totally alien elsewhere).
>> It is good ot have competition though. Perhaps Rogers will lower their
>> prices eventually.
>> For handsets, there is a new Android "Droid" phone that is getting good
>> reviews. There is also the Nokia N900 which is Debian Linux.
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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