Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summary of KDDIs SIM lock presentation (part 2)

AU's presentation (archive) was a core of 5 slides with a reference section containing an additional 3 slides describing the domestic carrier's plans for LTE (see bottom of post) and the status of SIM locking in the UK, Italy, Germany, France, the US, and South Korea.

As AU stated in a press conference preceding the meeting, they are against the plan simply because their technology (CDMA-2000) is incompatible with that used by the other three Japanese carriers (W-CDMA). Another main point made by AU is that, while all four carriers plan to roll out LTE for data, voice transmissions will likely be handled by the existing 3G technology, meaning LTE capable AU handsets will still not be 100% compatible. In addition, they raise the same points as others that only voice and SMS are in practice compatible between different carriers. Thus, AU maintains that there is no merit in unlocking handsets.

The bulk of AUs presentation was background information.

According to AU, in Europe and North America, SIM cards were first used in 2G GPS handsets, and with the evolution of 2G to 2.5G (GPRS), most carriers began heavily subsidizing handsets that were locked to their respective networks for the duration of the contract, after which they would typically unlock them for free. AU points out that in there are no regulations mandating unlocking in the US or the UK, which abolished unlocking guidelines in 2002.

Japanese carriers shoulder the cost of handset development and much of the competition between carriers revolves around handsets. Following the introduction of SIM-card 3G handsets, carriers adopted a strategy similar to Europe and the US and began locking heavily subsidized handsets. This also serves as a lazy man's theft deterrent in that each of the carriers do not have to maintain a shared pool of blacklisted serial (IMEI) numbers of stolen phones.


This is a great slide. If this slide is still accurate, Docomo will start operating LTE any day now, with service available at the end of the year. Docomo is expected to have nearly 20 million LTE subscribers by 2015, well over three times the number expected for softbank, who hasn't yet announced a data for LTE roll out.  Softbank will begin DC-HSDPA service in July of next year. AU won't have LTE until the end of 2012, and E-Mobile by July 2012.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summary of Docomo and E-mobile SIM unlock presentations (part 1)

I hope some of you had time with such short notice to send some opinions into the MIC regarding what I am calling the preliminary guidelines on SIM locks. While technically, the word "preliminary" is not used by the MIC to describe the guidelines, the fact they are soliciting feedback indicates there is a possibility for revision.

As a followup, here are links to the presentations made by each of the four carriers during the April meeting on unlocking, with a brief summary of Docomo's and E-Mobile's presentations, both of which were in support of unlocking (and make absolute perfect sense, to me at least). Docomo and E-Mobile also base their opinions on where they believe the market is going and understand that the "Galapagos feature phone" is an evolutionary dead end that is soon to be outcompeted by little warm-blooded furry mammals - I mean smartphones.

KDDI (AU) and Softbanks presentations will be addressed in the next post.


Docomo's presentation (archive) was 5 slides and focused on the changing business model, their support of unlocking, and effects on customers. Docomo ended the presentation with a clear slide describing exactly what is and is not compatible (added English is mine).

What they officially said:
According to docomo, if unlocking is mandated there will be a new model for selling handsets in which the price of the service contract is separated from that of the phone, resulting in more clarity in the exact price for each. They expect this new model to coexist with the traditional model where locked phones are heavily subsidized, except that Docomo would unlock the phone after the contract expired.

Docomo also expects proliferation of smartphones/mobile data devices such as the Nexus one and the iPad, and gave an example of pricing for a locked versus unlocked Nexus one on US T-Mobile. (Obviously Docomo didn't see the softbank exclusive deal for the iPad coming.)

Docomo's opinion is that if customers desire unlocked phones, then the appropriate action is to offer unlocked phones, but also to make sure customers are aware of what services, technologies, and frequencies are compatible. Examples of incompatible services include carrier mail, walled garden internet, certain DRMed files, the ability to remotely lock a lost phone, and public service/disaster announcements.

Furthermore, a cooperative means for supporting handsets in an unlocked environment must be developed so that critical software patches can be delivered OTA, damaged handsets can be serviced, and information on stolen handsets can be shared between carriers.

What they really meant to say:

We want in on the iPhone action.


E-Mobile presented (archive) 8 slides that primarily echoed Docomo's thoughts, such as the need to accommodate customer desire by unlocking phones and the creation of a new domestic distribution model. E-mobile also believes that the success of this model and consumer protection require the support of a firm governmental policy. And of course E-Mobile, who only has the 1.7 GHz band, also said there needs to be a more neutral allocation of frequency bands.

They also showed the below slide which projects that by 2013, smartphones will account for 40% of all handsets sold globally. I wonder how this would break down for just Japan?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Android 2.2 to arrive soon via Cyanogen Mod 6

As reader Vin mentioned, Android 2.2 froyo source code was released on the 23th. The same day Cyanogen announced via twitter that he has begun work on CM-6 for the following handsets: Nexus One, Droid, Dream, Magic, Desire, Evo, and Slide.

If anyone is still wondering if it is worth voiding your phone's warranty, obtaining root access, and flashing a new operating system onto your old HTC phone, like the ht-03a, I can unequivocally say it damn sure is worth it.

Unless of course you like waiting for handset makers and carriers to get around to providing updates.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Communications Ministry soliciting public feedback on SIM locks

I should have posted this much earlier. The deadline to offer an opinion on SIM locks is tomorrow 6/23/2010 by email, fax or mail (mail must arrive by 6 pm).

I just finished reading the preliminary guidelines (PDF archive). It has already been reported that these are mere suggestions to carriers, but it does sound like things will be changing with LTE. One thing is clear, unlocking will only apply to handsets sold from next year.  There is no mention of overseas handsets.

My gut feeling is that these guidelines will be largely ignored as the carriers aren't required to follow them. Maybe Docomo will accept unlocked phones from other carriers, since they are less worried about losing customers than softbank. Maybe not. In a follow up post, I will post highlights from each companies presentation during the April meeting on unlocking. (I just ran into them.)

First, here is an English version of my comment to MIC:

Page: 1; 項目: 1; 該当部分: 趣旨; 意見: Create a level playing field by licensing softbank a slice of the 800 MHz spectrum to bring their network quality on par with docomo in mountainous/indoor/underground areas.

Page: 1; 項目: 2; 該当部分: 本ガイドラインの位置づけ; 意見: Force, rather than suggest, the carriers to unlock 1) unsubsidized handsets and 2) subsidized handsets once the subsidy contract period has expired.

Page: 2; 項目: 4; 該当部分: 対象となる端末; 意見: Clarify if foreign handsets sold from 2011 are subject to these guidelines.

Page: 3; 項目: 6(2); 該当部分: 端末を販売した後にSIMロックを解除する場合; 意見: The question of i-mode, SMS, email incompatibility is will become a moot point due to the explosive increase in popularity of smart phones, especially the iPhone and Android based phones.
Next, here are the directions for submitting your opinion (PDF). The last two pages contain an example of what they want the format to be on A4 sized paper. Probably at this point, the easiest thing to do it type your text directly into the example with a pdf editor and fax it to them at 03-5253-5838.

If submitting by email, you must
  1. Submit a microsoft word document in the format of the above example. An ichitaro file is also acceptable. (If you do not know what 一太郎 is, then consider yourself lucky.)
  2. The subject of the email must be exactly "【SIMロック】意見の提出(●)", where the dot is your name, which can be your personal name or organization. In the case of organizations, the opinions and organization name may be published, but the names of individuals will not be published.
  3. Name the attached file with "your-name-as-used-in-the-subject-line.doc".
  4. Be sure the email does not exceed 5 MB
  5. Send to: n-line AT
Finally, here is my translation of the guidelines into English. I left a few things out, and actually skipped most of the last page, but the meat of it is here. Keep in mind that I am not a pro translator and this is provided "as is". If you see any errors, leave a comment and I'll check it out, but I don't really care so much about the finer points of wether it is best to literally translate, preserving as much as possible the original sentence structure. (As anyone who reads Japanese can easily see, I don't do it that way but rather try and write it is a way that produces normal-sounding English.
1. Purpose

Currently, most cellular handsets sold in Japan are locked ["SIM Lock"] such that they can only be used on the network of the carrier from which the handset was purchased.

Under the present circumstances, even it a particular phone was unlocked and another carrier's SIM card inserted, differences in cellular technology [GSM, CDMA, W-CDMA, CDMA-2000, etc], frequencies, and platforms would result in limited or possiblly no functionality.

With this issue in mind, following the introduction of 3.9G [e.g., LTE], removal of SIM locks is anticipated to encourage the spread of handsets that are not preset to work only with a specific carrier's network. However, there are presently a number of customers who wish for the removal of SIM locks to allow the use of their domestic handsets overseas with a local SIM card, or to allow them to continue using the same handset after porting their mobile number to another carrier [MNP, mobile number portability].

To address these demands, carriers are expected to unlock compatible handsets.

Though the 2007 Mobile Business Activation Plan [モバイルビジゼス活性化プラン] set 2010 as the time for a final plan regarding the mandating of unlocked phones, in light of the above mentioned issues, we will continue studying the issues that would affect any potential legislation.

2. Scope of the guidlines

While the purpose of these guidelines is not to force carriers to unlock phones, carriers should strive to understand the position of customers and follow these guidelines.

3. Definitions

(1) SIM Card
(2) SIM Lock [A cellphone locked to a particular carrier's network]
(3) SIM Free [An unlocked cell phone]

4. Handsets subjected to these guidelines

Compatible handsets sold new from 2011 should be unlocked.

Carriers should publicly indicate on their website, pamphlets, etc. which handsets are subject to unlocking, as well as the procedure for unlocking. Furthermore, any and all fees associated with unlocking should be clearly stated.

5. Provision of service to customers with handsets branded by another carrier

Carriers must offer service to customers in possession of a handset branded by another carrier, unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal of service. Carriers should also, excluding incompatible handsets, accept connections from customers.

6. Responsibility of explanation

Carriers should ensure that customers understand the following points, especially when selling handsets.

(1) Fully explain the following points to customers when selling handsets

① Wether the handset is locked or unlocked.
② The process for unlocking the handset.
③ Which services, applications, etc. are incompatible with other carriers.

(2) When unlocking a handset sold to a customer, fully explain the following points

① Which services, applications, etc. are incompatible with other carriers.
②The process for unlocking the handset

(3) At the conclusion of a customers contract, it should be fully explained which services, applications, etc. will work when the same carriers SIM card is inserted.

7. Network, handset problems

In the case that another carriers handset has network or physical problems, the carrier providing network service work with the original carrier to put in place a system for repair. Furthermore, depending on the nature of the damage, the original carrier should also provide service to the customer.

8. Miscellaneous
[Most of the rest of this deals with privacy, restating the potential for a phone to be incompatible, stolen phones and giving another look at problems faced by carriers, the evaluations from customers, incompatibilities in services, applications, etc.]

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hikari Portable supports Docomo and E-mobile

As I mentioned awhile back, subscribers to NTT East's Flets Hikari home fiber internet service will be able to rent the Hikari Portable wifi/3G router, a potential workaround for the bug causing people to have to use the iPad on Softbank (or is that a "feature"?).  The details came out yesterday, and there are two flavors, the provocatively named "A-type", which is SIM locked to Docomo, and "the B-type" which is not.

Currently, you have a choice between B-mobile, E-mobile, and Docomo.

Docomo has the best network and most extensive coverage area but with the price of being locked to Docomo with the A-type. E-mobile gives you the freedom to use it anywhere in the world and the option of no contract but a less extensive coverage area. B-mobile is the the cheapest option and the only one that accepts cash payments but won't work for youtube, skype, or any other streaming service.


No Announcements from Docomo yet on pricing.


See here for B-mobile information.

E-mobile requires a credit card and is offering an unlimited plan (super light data plan) that scales with usage, reaching the cap after about 14 MB of data transfer (111,450 packets). The price for this is ¥2,000 to ¥5,980 per month with no contract (basic plan) or ¥280 to ¥4680 per month with a 2-year contract (ni-nen tokuwari). There is an initial fee of ¥2,835. Early termination fee is ¥9,975.

The relevant E-mobile terms (pasted below in Japanese only) indicates they reserve the right to do bad things to you if you exceed 300 GB per month or 3,000,000 packets (122 MB) in 24 hours. (The much slower B-mobile has the same 3 million packet limit over 3 days.)

How fast is it?

  • 21Mbps/7.2Mbps/3.6Mbpsは下り最大、5.8Mbps/1.4Mbps/384Kbpsは上り最大の通信速度です。
  • 下り最大21Mbps対応エリア外の通信可能エリアでは下り最大7.2Mbpsまたは下り最大3.6Mbpsとなります。
  • 下り最大7.2Mbps対応エリア外の通信可能エリアでは下り最大3.6Mbpsとなります。
  • 上り最大5.8Mbps対応エリア外の通信可能エリアでは上り最大1.4Mbps(一部エリアでは上り最大2.0Mbps)、または384kbpsとなります。
  • 上り最大5.8Mbpsサービスは一部対応エリアでのみ利用可能です。
  • 上り最大1.4Mbps(一部エリアでは上り最大2.0Mbps)対応エリア外の通信可能エリアでは384kbpsとなります。
  • 最大通信速度はベストエフォート(規格上の最大速度)であり、実効速度として保証するものではありません。なお、通信環境や混雑状況により通信速度が変化する可能性があります。
The Hikari portable has a maximum download of 7.2 Mbps (spec sheet [j]), so the above says that if you are in the 7.2 Mbps area you get 7.2 Mbps. If you are in the 3.6 Mbps area you, and so on for upload speed. The terms below also say the service is "best effort"
  • EMOBILE通信サービスにおける最大速度は、ベストエフォート(規格上の最大速度)です。実効速度として保証するものではありません。
  • 本サービスは電波を利用している為、建物の中やトンネル内などの障害物により電波の届かないところや、電波の弱いところでは、ご利用いただけません。また、使用中に電波状態の悪いところへ移動する場合は、通信が切れる場合がありますので、あらかじめご了承ください。
  • 一定時間以上継続して当社の電気通信設備を占有する等、その通話/通信がEMOBILE通信サービスの提供または他の契約者の利用に支障をきたすおそれがあると当社が認めた場合等に、事前に通知することなくその通話/通信を切断または制限する場合があります。
  • 本サービスでは、インターネット接続の提供を行います。
  • インターネット接続を行うにあたりプロバイダとのご契約は不要ですが、当社指定の接続先(APN)の設定を行っていただく必要があります。なお、接続先(APN)の設定を当社の承諾なくお客さまにて変更された場合、 インターネット接続をご利用いただけなくなる可能性があります。
  • EMモバイルブロードバンドでは、メールサービスの提供を行いません。お客さまご自身にてご契約されているプロバイダのメールサービスをご利用の際は、別途設定が必要になる場合があります。 設定方法についてはこちらを参照いただくか、 各プロバイダまでお問い合わせください。
  • 当社では2009年10月1日より、特にご利用の多いお客さま(前々月の月間データ通信量が300GB(ギガバイト)以上)に対して、ネットワーク品質及び利用の公平性確保を目的に、より多くのお客さまが快適にご利用いただくための通信速度制御を行っています(前々月実績を元に当月1ヵ月間制御を行っています)。なお、基準の見直しにより2010年8月24日以降は、特にご利用の多いお客さま(24時間ごとのご利用通信量が300万パケット以上)に対して、ネットワーク混雑時間帯(当日21時から翌日2時まで)に通信速度制御を行います。基準については、今後の通信品質状況によって見直す可能性があります。

More confusing information on updates for HTC Magic/Sapphire/Ion/HT-03a/MyTouch 3G

I give up.

It will come when it comes to whom it comes, and not a second sooner. I had figured that everyone was waiting on the goods from the maker, but now I am not so sure how much the carriers are involved in this process.

Rogers of Canada had indicated their version of this handset would get an update to Eclair this summer. The Rogers version uses the "32a" board (288 MB RAM). Most other versions use the "32b" board (192 MB RAM), including the Ion and ht-03a.

Now two new developments: Apparently Android 2.2 "Froyo" is officially coming to all the gazzilion T-mobile my Touch versions, which include both 32a and 32b boards (the one with the separate audio jack is 32a), with the "no phone left behind (except for the G1)" campaign. (In fairness, the new Android versions simply won't fit on the G1 without installing the Danger SPL, which frees up more nand space for the ROM by removing the /cache partition used (asfaik) for receiving OTA updates).

In addition, Vodafone is also hinting, in a very strange way (that is, a forum post!), that this handset will get froyo but was never supported with eclair:
Hi guys,

The HTC Magic is not, and should not be considered to be the same model of handset as the HTC Sapphire or any other equivalents, so please try not to draw comparisons. This handset is viewed differently by both HTC and Google so it cannot be assumed that what applies to one applies to the other.

I can confirm that Google have never supported 2.1 on this device, so that's not going to be available. With regards to 2.2 on the other hand... I'm afraid I can't confirm that because the information is classed as confidential at present. As soon as we're allowed to say anything we will do, but I think some of you may already be able to draw a conclusion from the mere fact that it's confidential

eForum Team
So why would people in Canada be hearing they are getting 2.1 why people in Europe are hearing 2.1 was never supported? Vodafone is using the 32b, while Europe Canada is using the 32a, but they have the same sized /system partition asfaik. Fastbooting the magic will tell you if it is a Google build (G) or an HTC build (H). Maybe this has something to do with what is and is not supported and by whom? Really, I have no freaking idea. For what it's worth, here is what we get when fastbooting the ht-03a


So from this I know that it is a 32b board Sapphire with security disabled (yay goldcard!) and an HTC build.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing I guess. Maybe we'll get 2.1 in Japan. Maybe we'll get 2.2. Maybe we won't get anything. It is a good thing Cyanogen does what he does.

And while I'm rambling around with this post, thought I'd share this: We all know this phone doesn't support i-mode. In doing some googling for this post, I ran across this. Brilliant!

Shipped ROMs gets cease and desist letter from HTC

I just found out about the Shipped ROMs site this morning. It has been around for all of two months, and in that time, has managed to collect in one place, nearly every ROM HTC has ever produced. Unfortunately, they don't have the Docomo ht-03a stock ROM. I tried downloading one of the other asian ROMs for the HTC Magic (aka sapphire), but the connection timed out - not sure if it is their site or the firewall I'm behind.

Anyways, if you are into this sort of thing, I'd suggest checking out the site while it is still around.

While I'm all for hacking phones, I can understand HTCs actions regarding this. Posting this amount is probably a bit much. Here is the first part of the letter. Several other sites are discussing exactly what "art" is supposed to mean.

Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2010 2:50 PMTo: ‘’


Subject: Cease and Desist Letter of HTC ROMs posted on your website

Importance: High

Dear Sir or Madam:

I write to you on behalf of HTC Corporation (“HTC”), a Taiwanese company with a global business, who is the owner of certain intellectual property (“HTC¡¦s Intellectual Property”). It is our understanding that you are responsible for the hosting of an internet webpage located at (the “Site¡¨). HTC has also recently learned that the Site contains software/ROM related to HTC¡¦s Intellectual Property which entails illegal copying of HTC¡¦s original art work.