AfterDawn: Tech news

DRM chip could lock mobile phones to networks and content providers

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 05 Oct 2005 16:06 User comments (14)

DRM chip could lock mobile phones to networks and content providers Mobile phones are one of the most popular gadgets on this planet to date, and they still spread in popularity day by day. To use a mobile phone, you simply need the phone, a SIM card and cellular network to use. Usually the network supplies you with your SIM card, which then contains information about your provider and helps you establish a connection with the network to make and receive calls etc. Additionally, many service providers impose restrictions on the phones that they sell to their customers, mostly known one being the provider lock.
Increasing numbers of people are unlocking phones and using them with many different networks, much to the annoyance of the original network that sold the phone. So what will be the next thing that will protect phones from being unlocked and used freely with any network? The answer is basically a DRM chip. At a mobile communications industry trade show, a group of engineers announced an initiative to produce standards for DRM on mobile phones.

It would build on the work of the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) for a mobile version of the company's Trusted Platform Module (TPM). TPM technology provides cryptography functions in hardware, which can be used for system and user authentication and storing of information for installed software to protect it against unauthorized use. It also can ensure that applications are only used for intended purposes and nothing else.

This means basically that documents stored in specific formats might not be interpreted by applications that they did not originate from. So imagine it being used with mobile phones for a moment. TGC's Mobile Phone Work Group introduced a concept called SIMLock/Device Personalization which effectively ensures a device remains locked to a particular network until it is unlocked in an "authorized manner". This would mean it would be a lot harder to unlock a mobile phone from a network than it is now.

Seth Schoen, staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation released a statement about the proposals saying that they "aim to help your cell phone company decide who can publish software or media for your phone, whether you can load your own documents, and even whether you can switch carriers or resell your phone. These are not innovations that consumers will applaud." These words are true as consumers generally don't like being limited with their gadgets. "The cell phone industry hasn't yet realized that cell phones are little computers, and that users expect the same amount of choice about how to use their phones as they enjoy with their PCs and PDAs." the statement continues.

Earlier today we also reported on how claims are being made that mobile phone unlocking software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the U.S.

Tom's Hardware Guide

Previous Next  

14 user comments

15.10.2005 16:45

I dream of a world where what I buy is mine and I can do with it what I want...

26.10.2005 2:22

The networks dont own the phones! (untill the contract is fully forfilled) What if i found a better value network? You cant keep us with you! Its our choice! Its our Handset!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 06 Oct 2005 @ 2:25

36.10.2005 3:24

Bollox to all of them. I HATE DRM anyway, it will be cracked so...

46.10.2005 5:33

What a load of crap. What they gonna do next stop you calling people who are on different networks. If networks do end up doing this then there will be an even greater demand for "Sim Free Handsets". And guess who's gonna get the money, it will be the manufacturers. So the networks are only gonna screw themselves with this one.

56.10.2005 6:13

the answer is in everyones hands! If everyone simply boycotted dvds or phones whatever has drm or other forms of copy protection which unreasonably limits use of a product , xp is a prime example drm and activation etc dont buy it tell them to put it somewhere VERY safe! heh heh! being polite!! what gives these companies the right to technically break things instal chips to styop devices working as they were designed to do, if enough people refused to accept dvds /cds, drm etc on software, products, high definition tvs are another good example of further curtailment of individual rights, then these companies would have to yield to public demand, choice is simple stand up for your rights and for what you want not what they want you to have, dont compplain in 5 years time as it will be too late!!

66.10.2005 7:37

nigel, no one is going to boycott. Let's seperate subsidized phones from unsubsidized phones. If you have GSM, you always have the choice to buy your phone unsubsidized and not worry about locks. I have had gsm on and off for almost 15 years, here in the US and in europe. I don't know of a consumer in europe who isn't aware the phones from the providers are subsidized and there a certain wait period (6 to 12 months) to have the lock taken off. In the US for the non gsm carriers it is a different issue, the phones are not so much "locked" as usually unusable on other networks. I think for the sub $150 phones, which are pretty much free after rebate, one is buying an applaince to connect to a certain network and one should not expect more. now how about that $400 to $600 pda phone? well there is an active secondary market (ebay) which allows you to sell and buy your phone if want a different phone. I just sold my sprint treo 650 (got a 6700) to another sprint user. sprint gives the buyer absolutly no problem to use it their account (with the only exception if it is listed as stolen). so they are not tying me up with a phone. In the long run the thing to watch out for is in a few years pda phones with wi fi and voip will come on stream. If th phoen companies try and block this then I think they would be commiting a foul.

76.10.2005 8:22

Well guys, it takes years and years to get consumer rights unfortunately. In the United States for years you were bound to a land-based telephone provider with your phone number. Only in the last few years have you been able to have your phone number transferred to another provider and now with the cell phones this is gradually coming true, region by region in the United States. So hopefully they will have it so that you can buy a phone and choose your provider. Only problem is that some phones are custom made for particular cell providers who offer exclusive services that other companies do not. Think about this. This would be like buying a computer custom made for certain ISP's that you would not be allowed to modify or switch. Ridiculous.

86.10.2005 12:25

<i>Think about this. This would be like buying a computer custom made for certain ISP's that you would not be allowed to modify or switch.</i> Err, since about 75% of US mobile phones are sold as free after rebate an analogy would be ike having your dsl or cable company give you a modem, tell you it can only be used with their service, and being suprised you can't use it with other services.

96.10.2005 14:07

Trust me, the phones are not free after rebates! Biggest gimmick possible! Do you not think that you are paying for that cell phone with your 1 or 2 year contract? So no, I stand by my assertion that it is a rip off to make phones that people pay for that are limited what you can do with them. Now, if the phone is provided for free, FREE, then fine, limit it to your company. But if you are paying for it, then it sould not be limited.

106.10.2005 17:21

man, this sucks

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 17 Apr 2006 @ 22:25

1118.10.2005 8:33

" Trust me, the phones are not free after rebates! Biggest gimmick possible! " most phones sold are indeed free after rebate. 90% of sprint phones sold are udner $150 and the rebate is up to $200

1227.9.2010 11:26

type your comments here

1327.9.2010 11:32

type your comments here

1427.9.2010 11:37

type your comments here

Comments have been disabled for this article.

News archive