[sf-lug] Android / T-Mobile G1

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Dec 4 03:41:21 PST 2008

I wrote:

> If only the G1 weren't, in general, even more locked down than is
> Apple's iPhone:  It's DRM-locked from the ground up, including the
> (non-reflashable) boot ROMs. 

Interesting recent news item:

  T-Mobile G1 Net Access Can't Be Turned Off, Results in Huge Roaming Costs
  by Sean Fallon, 2:05 PM on Tue Dec 2 2008

  According to our tipster, taking your G1 abroad may not be financially
  wise.  Apparently, his data roaming bill rang up at $102.85 -- even
  though data roaming, data sync and 3G were turned off.

  How could this happen you ask? Well, after returning home from the UK,
  he called T-Mobile customer service to discuss his bill. After a lengthy
  series of conversations, a supervisor revealed that the G1 always
  accesses the Internet whether you are sending text messages or
  calls -- even when the data roaming features are off. In the end, his
  advice was that "the phone should have been left in the USA to avoid
  these charges."

  Naturally, there was no mention of this when he made his initial call to
  T-Mobile before his trip to get international calling and text added.
  All they said was data roaming would be charged at $10 per MB and that
  if he did not access the Internet everything would be fine. As it turns
  out, he was charged approx $.15 every 3-7 minutes on average -- but not
  all of it was from calls and texts. In his words, it was "almost as if
  the phone is pinging."

  In a situation like this I am compelled to ask whether or not any of you
  have experienced similar issues with the G1. Could it really be
  accessing the Internet this much? 

You'll notice that oddly absent from the account is _why_ the G1 needs
to "always access the Internet".  Call me a cynic, but I can think of a
number of reasons an embedded network-capable device might have a
carefully undocumented habit of "always access[ing] the Internet", none
of them good.

Now, naturally, Android being Linux-based, it'll be possible to track
down and study what process is doing this.  On an _unlocked_ smartphone,
it would be possible to disable or modify whatever cruddy code is doing
that -- but the G1 is anything but unlocked.  It'll boot only the
crypto-signed kernel that T-Mobile built and authorised for it, the copy
of init they want you to run, and so on.

It's like an iPhone that Steve Jobs continues to own, and you merely
paid for -- except worse.

> Places to watch / read include:
> http://clonedroidphone.com/

Add:  http://www.talkandroid.com/

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