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Wireless Industry News


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FBI Gets DS3 Backdoor Into Verizon Wireless Network? [Mar. 7th, 2008|08:31 pm]
Wireless Industry News

FBI Gets DS3 Backdoor Into Verizon Wireless Network?
Another whistle-blower exposes surveillance project


Wired's Threat Level blog is reporting that a major wireless carrier
offers the FBI direct, high-speed access to the company's voice calls,
data packets and company records. A whistle-blower who worked as a
network security analyst at the company in question (which the blog
strongly hints is Verizon Wireless), says the company "got squirrelly"
when he asked about a mysterious DS-3 line linking its most sensitive
network to an unnamed third party.
"What I thought was alarming is how this carrier ended up essentially
allowing a third party outside their organization to have unfettered
access to their environment," Babak Pasdar, now CEO of New York-based
Bat Blue told Threat Level. "I wanted to put some access controls around
it; they vehemently denied it. And when I wanted to put some logging
around it, they denied that."

According to Pasdar, the line is not part of the FBI's CALEA program,
which provides specific data when the carrier is presented with a
warrant. Like AT&T's legal troubles, this appears to be another instance
of direct government access to a communications carrier without any
functional legal oversight -- and the exact kind of project the
companies have lobbied to get legal immunity for. The news comes on the
same day the FBI admitted it "improperly accessed Americans' telephone
records, credit reports and Internet traffic in 2006."
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Cellphone Numbers Just Don't Add Much To Political Polling [Feb. 2nd, 2008|04:55 pm]
Wireless Industry News

(you need no longer wonder why I leave my mobile off until after 02:00 UTC)
Cellphone Numbers Just Don't Add Much To Political Polling

By Carl Bialik
Wall Street Journal

February 1, 2008; Page B1


Political pollsters for decades have reached people in their homes via
their telephones. As of last month, the Gallup Organization started
reaching people in their cars, at work, at play or in stores via their
cellphones, too. Whether the company's competitors will follow, and what
effect this will have on polling numbers, remains the subject of heated
debate among pollsters this primary season.

For polling numbers to be meaningful, those surveyed must represent the
broader population. By the early 1970s, pollsters felt comfortable that
dialing landline phones could suffice, as only about one in 10 homes lacked
a phone line. But a year ago, 13.6% of American households had only
cellphones, according to the latest government survey -- conducted
door-to-door, by the way.

"Essentially, you're back to pre-1970s levels in terms of coverage" by
calling only landlines, says Michael W. Link, a survey-research
methodologist for Nielsen Media Research. "If you don't , you're
essentially playing Russian roulette with your survey results."

The impact of losing cellphone-only respondents, however, may be
exaggerated. Their numbers aren't big enough to budge most poll results by
more than a point or two, Gallup has found.

People who use only cellphones, on average, are younger, more likely to
rent their homes and have lower incomes than their tethered-telephone
peers. But once you adjust for age, cellphone-only users have similar
political viewpoints. Although he thinks cellphones should be included,
Jeffrey M. Jones, managing editor of the Gallup Poll, asks, "It's still a
lot of cost and effort, and what's the payoff?"

The cost difference is substantial. Each completed cellphone interview
costs about double or triple a landline one, Mr. Jones and others estimate.
While pollsters are exempt from the do-not-call list, federal law requires
them to hand-dial cellphone numbers rather than use cheaper auto-dial
programs. Also, some pollsters, though not Gallup, figure they'd have to
pay cellphone respondents $1 to $10 to reimburse them for the cost of minutes.

Just completing a cellphone survey poses special problems. For one,
respondents tend to be more likely to decline to be interviewed. Gallup
found a rejection rate of about two percentage points above landline
respondents. "We're trying to assign interviewers with thicker skin to
cellphone people," Mr. Jones says.

Plus, it takes more calls to reach cellphone users, who may not pick up
when their usage isn't free, or may defer the call when they're driving or
in a public place. Finally, many pollsters cancel interviews when they find
the respondents also have a landline, reasoning they're likely to be picked
up in the traditional survey.

Once you've gotten a cellphone user, other vexing problems surface. Relying
on the area code for location won't cut it, because people who move often
take their wireless numbers with them. And it's hard to weight cellphone
responses because there's no reliable local data for cellphone penetration.
Also, though no research has yet suggested data-quality problems, reaching
people in public places could detract from the candor and focus of the

For tests of cellphone polling, Public Opinion Strategies, which jointly
conducts the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, typically slashes 20-minute
surveys by more than half to adapt for distracted cellphone users, says
Bill McInturff, partner at the Alexandria, Va., firm. Still, even these
shorter surveys cost 70% more over cellphone than their longer counterparts
over landline -- one reason the poll doesn't yet include cellphones,
pending the outcome of tests.

Last year, Ron Paul supporters suggested their candidate was penalized
because of disproportionate support among excluded cellphone-only users.

"Sorry, Ron Paul, but there is not a large hidden vote out there for you,"
says Scott Keeter, director of survey research for Pew, based on Pew
Research Center's latest tests, conducted late last year.

Nor did including cellphone users shift any other political numbers by more
than a percentage point or two.

So why bother to dial cellphones?

It helps ensure public trust in polls, Mr. Jones says. More important, the
cellphone-only population is growing, and pollsters worry that excluding
them could hurt November forecasts.
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Sprint Broadband down? [Dec. 12th, 2007|12:28 pm]
Wireless Industry News


I haven't been able to get Sprint wireless broadband going on my comp since yesterday and I was curious if Sprint was affected by the ice storms that went on in the Midwest.

My Sierra Wireless card acts as if it's connecting. It authenticates and shows EVDO connection, but it will not send or receive information. The browser won't load anything.

To my knowledge, no settings with regard to my connection have changed, though I did switch the HA over to Ft. Worth after several incomplete connection attempts with the HA in Kansas City. The connection acts the same whether I'm going through Ft. Worth or Kansas City.

Anything going on?

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Sprint pulling a calling scam? [Nov. 28th, 2007|07:34 pm]
Wireless Industry News

ok, just minutes ago, a woman with an Indian accent identified herself as an agent of Sprint (866-463-3021), and said don't worry, the call wouldn't cost me, and informed me that Sprint was currently rewarding some of their best customers with a free cell phone. I immediately asked for how long, and she said yes, for a two year contract. It sounded like they were offering free service too, so I asked if it was totally free and she said yes. I think she didn't understand my question about it being totally free. I must assume she was merely talking about the phone. She did mention that it would be for a new line, separate from the one I have now. That's why I kept asking if everything was free. Anyway, exactly after she guaranteed it was free, the connection was lost. So I call back and of course it's a recording.

Anyone else get one of these calls?
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(no subject) [Nov. 26th, 2007|07:12 am]
Wireless Industry News

[mood |frustratedfrustrated]

I currently haver Verizon and it doesn't work where I live so I'm looking to switch. The problem is, I live in the middle of no where and NOTHING works here except Nextel/Sprint (mainly Nextel)
But I am in LOVE with the Sony Ericsson Z310i Pink Phone which is on GSM 850-900-1800-1900... I don't really fully understand the entire GSM thing period, but I read a little and found that Nextel DOES offer a few GSM phones on GSM 900 and 1900 I think it is... does that mean ANY phone working under those will work if it's an unlocked phone? Specifically the Sony Ericsson I'm looking at?
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(no subject) [Nov. 4th, 2007|05:37 pm]
Wireless Industry News

Can anyone help me with how you go about unlocking a phone? Specifically the new Kyocera Wildcard?
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Apple update disables unlocked iPhones [Oct. 2nd, 2007|09:39 am]
Wireless Industry News

By Jim Dalrymple and Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

Don't say you weren't warned. After cautioning customers earlier this week that unlocked iPhones may be
disabled when installing future Apple software updates, the company on Thursday made good on its warning.

Two iPhones in the Macworld offices that had the SIM hacks applied to them were disabled after installing
iPhone Update 1.1.1. The update process went through without a hitch, however, when the phone restarted an
activation message appeared that said, "Insert an unlocked and valid SIM to activate iPhone."

A similar message appeared in iTunes. A note saying the SIM card was not valid and to insert a valid SIM
card greeted the user.

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards contain account information and are used to authenticate devices on
certain types of mobile networks. Unlocked iPhones can use SIM cards from non-AT&T networks.

Security researcher Tom Ferris said the new software disabled a phone that had been unlocked using the
open-source anySIM software in order to work on T-Mobile USA's wireless network. "It kept saying
'unsupported SIM card,' even with the AT&T SIM card in it," he said. "You can turn the phone off or on,
but we just can't figure out how to get past this 'SIM card not supported,'" he said.

Users also could not navigate through the iPhone's menus. The "Slide for Emergency" slider is the only
thing available after installing the update. This allows customers to make emergency calls only.

The update also appears to disable the Jailbreak hack which allows users to install unsupported software
on the iPhone, Ferris said. After the 1.1.1 patch was installed it wiped out all of the third-party
applications he had installed on a second iPhone, he said.

Apple warned customers on Monday that unlocked iPhones may become inoperable. "Apple has discovered that
many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to
the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable
when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed," the company said in a statement.

Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET to incorporate comments from security researcher Tom Ferris.
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A Cellphone Without Borders [Oct. 2nd, 2007|09:36 am]
Wireless Industry News

September 27, 2007

A Cellphone Without Borders
NY Times


It's amazing the way the Internet keeps toppling traditional businesses.
Telegrams have gone away. Music CD sales are tanking. Newspapers are hurting.

One especially lucrative business, however, has somehow escaped the
Internet's notice so far: international cellphone calls.

That's about to change. Early next month, a small company called Cubic
Telecom will release what it's calling the first global mobile phone.

But first, some background. Cellphones from T-Mobile and AT&T rely on the
same type of network (called GSM) that most of the rest of the world uses.
In theory, then, you can take these phones to other countries and make
calls as usual. (Most Verizon and Sprint phones work only in the United

Unfortunately, international roaming runs from $1 to $5 a minute. A
20-minute call home from the Bahamas on a T-Mobile phone will set you back
$60. The same call home from Russia on an AT&T cellphone will cost a cool $100.

Sure, you could always rent a phone or use a phone card when you travel -
but then nobody knows how to reach you.

It costs a lot to dial overseas from here, too. Verizon charges $1.50 a
minute for calls to most countries. AT&T's rates can be truly Dr. Seussian
- like $2.52 to Greece, $2.80 to Iraq and $3.65 to Australia. That's per
minute. Make one 20-minute call to New Zealand, and you owe $75 to AT&T.

Now, most carriers offer special international plans: you pay more a month,
you get slightly lower roaming rates. But even they can't touch the appeal
of Cubic's cellphone. It makes calls to or from any of 214 countries - for
50 to 90 percent off what the big carriers would charge.

On this phone, a 20-minute call from the Bahamas costs $5.80 (that's 90
percent off T-Mobile's rate). The Cubic price from Russia is 49 cents a
minute (90 percent lower than AT&T).

And there's no monthly fee and no commitment for any of this. It works like
a prepaid phone, where you put some money in your account and use it up as
you talk.

At this point, the appropriate world traveler's response ought to be
involuntary drooling, but there's more to the story. Most of it is more
good news, but also more complexity.

For example, consider this: at the MaxRoam.com site from Cubic, you can
request local phone numbers in up to 50 cities at no charge. Now you can
have a Paris number, a London number and a Mexico City number that your
friends overseas can use to call your cellphone.

No longer must you hand out a series of international phone numbers for
each trip you make, or expect your colleagues in the United States to pay
$50 a pop to reach you.

Cubic points out that this feature alone is a life-changer for people who
have moved, for example, to the United States from overseas. Their family
back home can keep in touch for the price of a local call.

I signed up for numbers in Paris, London and Barcelona, and then asked
friends in those cities to call me. They dialed local numbers, and my phone
rang in New York - very slick. Voice quality was typical of Internet calls:
perfectly understandable, but slightly muffled, with a quarter-second to
one-second voice delay.

Even that's not the end of this phone's possibilities. For a flat $42 a
month, you can turn on its unlimited Wi-Fi calling option. It lets you
receive unlimited unmetered calls to any numbers in the world from Internet
hot spots, or make them for a penny a minute. Either way, you have little
fear of racking up your bill.

This works on hot spots that require a password, but not ones that require
a Web-page login. And in contrast to the new HotSpot@Home phones from
T-Mobile, which seamlessly hand off calls between Wi-Fi and the cellular
network as you move, the Cubic phone drops the call when you leave the hot

Still, if you make a lot of international calls, this option could save
even more money. The voice quality is excellent, although these Wi-Fi calls
are sometimes marred by random beeps, clicks or dropped connections.

In some ways, the Cubic phone isn't just different; it's actually
eccentric. As a phone without a country, it requires a country code and
area code for every call, even next door.

The bigger weirdness: when you dial a number and press send, your phone
rings a few seconds later. When you answer, you hear a voice saying,
"Connecting your call," and then you hear the other person answer.

That's the Cubic's big trick at work: It carries your call over the
Internet. Therefore, placing a call just sets off Cubic's own system to
call you back, avoiding the big carriers' expensive cellular networks.

This, too, takes getting used to, and it also adds about 25 seconds of
waiting to every call. It helps if you keep chanting: "90 percent savings,
90 percent savings."

That's one reason you won't want to use the Cubic as your main cellphone.
Here's another: everyday domestic calling rates haven't been determined
yet, but will probably be a steep 15 cents a minute. Because there's no
monthly fee, though, there's no reason you can't just keep the Cubic in a
drawer until you travel (or place international calls). When you travel
abroad, you can either forward your regular cellphone number to the Cubic,
or change your voice mail greeting, instructing people to use your Cubic's
number while you're away.

The Cubic phone itself isn't much to look at. It's a slab-style camera
phone made by Pirelli - yes, the tire company - with clunky menus, a very
slow start-up and a tendency to freeze.

But here's the other dizzying news: Cubic's cheap global dialing has
nothing to do with the phone. The real magic is in the SIM card, the memory
card that determines your account information.

So get this: For $40, you can buy this card without the phone. Cubic says
that you can slip it into any GSM phone - even your regular T-Mobile or
AT&T phone, as long as it's an "unlocked" phone (one that works with other
companies' SIM cards). Then your own cellphone behaves exactly like the
Cubic phone described up to this point, minus the Wi-Fi calling, of course.

This is a lot to absorb, and it's going to be tough for Cubic to explain
all of it to the masses in a short tag line. (So far, it's going with "All
Global Calls Are Local Calls." Not bad.) Maybe it would have done better to
introduce one feature at a time.

You should know going in, too, that the company responsible for tearing
down this bastion of outrageous roaming rates is a little group of 13
people in Ireland, with vast experience in calling cards but none in
cellphone sales. Its plans are ambitious, disruptive - and incomplete.
Several pieces of its system have yet to be slipped into place, including
tech support, customer service, documentation, Internet data plans and
domestic calling rates. But what the heck-here's a $140 phone, or a $40 SIM
card, that can save you thousands of dollars a year. Depending on how many
international calls you make, it could pay for itself in a week or a month.

If nothing else, this ingenious melding of the cellphone and the Internet
should strike fear into the hearts of the giant corporations that are
currently bleeding travelers dry. This is how the last great overpriced
pre-Internet racket will end: not with a bang, but with a SIM card.
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Anyone else having Sprint trouble? [Sep. 16th, 2007|11:53 am]
Wireless Industry News

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post this here or not.

I'm on the Sprint wireless broadband network and my connection has been dead since last night. The error that comes up is the remote host isn't taking connections. I tried calling tech support this AM, but Sprint isn't taking any calls (weird). So, I'm curious. Did something catastrophic happen to take the network down?

I've had Sprint's wireless broadband service since June and up till now, it's been fairly reliable. I've only seen outages last as long as an hour if even. Certainly nothing this long.
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