29C3 - Version 1.9

F/a{hr-p).l//a,n
2.9/C-3

Speakers
Mark van Cuijk
Schedule
Day Day 1 - 2012-12-27
Room Saal 4
Start time 16:00
Duration 01:00
Info
ID 5167
Event type Lecture
Language used for presentation English
Feedback

Setting mobile phones free

An overview of a mobile telephony market and how a community-driven operator is born

In The Netherlands, this year the community-driven mobile telco Limesco has started operations. We're providing voice, SMS and data services to dozens of hackers in our country.

One of the founders of Limesco will give a lecture about mobile telephony in The Netherlands, encompassing topics like what companies are involved in the system, how tariffs are constructed and the role of government regulations.

The world of telephony consist of a lot of companies that are interconnected to provide phone services to customers. Since the introduction of VoIP protocols and the increase in available bandwidth, a lot of small VoIP providers have been starting to provide services. This creates a healthy and competitive market place for land-line telephony.

However, up to the day of today, mobile telephony is dominated by only a handful of companies. In The Netherlands, only three national networks exists: the Dutch KPN, the German T-Mobile and the British Vodafone. While a lot of "virtual" operators exist that make use of those networks, only little innovation takes place and operators are more often seen as introducing arbitrary barriers that facilitate commercial goals.

Out of the frustration for these barriers came the idea to start investigating what would be needed to run our own mobile telco to facilitate innovation and freedom in a community of hackers. Over a time of almost two years, the founders of Limesco have been talking to several existing companies and have found a way to fund and start a community-driven mobile telco.

A couple of months ago we have shipped our first SIM cards and were able to start offering services. What makes Limesco is unique are a couple of important differences compared to classical operators: we value privacy and specifically state privacy goals that are taken into account when designing our open source information and configuration systems, we are the only mobile telco that is reachable over IRC, we are hackers ourselves and hope to be able to do some cool innovations and make real progress in the future.

However, the best feature we have is our Do-it-Yourself connectivity variant. The model used by classical operators (and also our Out-of-the-Box variant) allows a user to insert a SIM into a mobile phone and the operators takes care of all technical stuff to make the connection work. In our Do-it-Yourself variant, this will only be the case for SMS and data, but we will route all voice through the SIP server of the user. This allows the user to configure a mobile phone as extension on an Asterisk server and do any fancy stuff that have been possible with landline phones for a long time.

Depending on available time and preference of the audience, during this lecture, the following questions will be answered by one of the founders of Limesco:

  • what are the reasons the project has been started?
  • what companies are involved in mobile telephony in The Netherlands?
  • how are those companies cooperating to provide mobile phone services?
  • how do those companies charge each other?
  • how are tariffs for end users constructed?
  • what is the role of government intervention in tariff designs?