November 6, 2007

260 words 2 mins read

OpenMoko & The 850mhz Bug

I subscribe to the OpenMoko mailing lists, and even contribute from time to time. Unfortunately something that greatly saddens me came across the lines this past evening. While the Neo1973 is a quad-band capable phone, the GTA01 (developer edition) and the GTA02 (first mass market edition due in December) are only capable of tri-band. In fact it only supports 900/1800/1900 GSM channels. What does this mean to the average person? The first Neo1973’s that are coming out, are useless in the United States. The US is basically all 850/1900 — and while the phone does support 1900, the other half is missing. For big carriers like AT&T it isn’t as bad, because they use both. But many smaller carriers only use one or the other — so you have to be very careful. This also means that your coverage wont be as good as regular phones, and you may end up with no coverage at all. There are a few other countries that use 850mhz, if you care you can look up where you at GSM World.

What does this mean to me? As much as I’ve promoted the OpenMoko way, the Neo1973, and as much as I really wanted to buy one of the first units out the door… I won’t. I’m willing to spend $450 on a super cool phone that supports some great goals, but I’m not willing to buy a phone thats coverage sucks worse than what I’ve already got (and let me tell you my RAZR’s coverage SUCKS). Its a very sad day for me.