Considering building an Arduino Phone running Cyanogenmod - What does Republic Wireless need?



Having the trait of being rather picky about my phone, considering how it’s my little digital companion throughout my life. I’m VERY picky on it’s traits, what it does, and what it doesn’t do without me telling it.

That said, I’m looking at a DIY smartphone route based on Arduino and seeing if I can get it running Cyanogenmod.

That said, this obviously is VERY far from Republic Wireless’s list of approved phones.

However, Republic Wireless says that the phones on it’s BYOP list are on there specifically because they have requirements that Republic Wireless needs.

So, if I’m considering building my own phone from the ground up, chances are I can make it have whatever it is that Republic Wireless needs. So… what is that… whatever it is… that limits Republic Wireless’s BYOP list to such a short supply?


I’m afraid building a phone from scratch that will activate on Republic’s network is a feat likely to prove impossible. Republic 3.0 SIMs will not activate using a custom ROM, so in addition to determining and sourcing appropriate hardware, one would need to source an appropriate stock manufacturer’s software build and get it to run on a custom built phone. I don’t see it happening.


The bottom line is Republic needs a commercial reason to certify that the phone will work with Republic. A phone with a total possible audience of one does not meet such a requirement.

Edited to Add… The BYOP phones activate on the network you don’t want to do business with. And Sprint, who you are OK with, requires that phones activated on their network are ones whose IMEI is in their system. Even if you could build the frankenphone you’re considering, you couldn’t get it activated with Sprint.


Kind of irrelevant, but why Arduino and not Raspberry Pi?


Arduino is more open source than the Pi, making it easier to do some of the modifications I want.


So all I need is for the phone is to have an IMEI that can be activated on Sprint. May get a bit convoluted, but I think I can make that work, and chat with Sprint some. Thanks!


How does the SIM know it’s a custom ROM?


Best of luck to you, but given that manufacturer’s like ZTE can’t get Sprint to activate phones they sell by the millions, I don’t think you’re going to have much luck.

I usually don’t say impossible, but what you’re proposing is impossible:

  1. Building a CDMA cell phone is going to be a fairly large hurdle in the first place given the Qualcomm control of the CDMA patents and very careful distribution channel of those radios.

  2. Sprint can’t legally consider allowing a device until it is FCC certified.

  3. Sprint demands LARGE fees from manufacturers to test/certify devices for their networks through the Sprint labs.

  4. Even if you did all that, you wouldn’t have an approved software build, causing the Republic App to reject your device.

  5. And if you found a way to get your unapproved device running, you’d be violating the Republic TOS.

For goodness sake, just find a carrier that suits you better.


that is only part of the issue the other part is getting Republic to let you activated it (Republic only lets phones it tested and approved of 3.0 plans (these have all been North American Factory Unlock)

the Republic 3.0 App check the White-list during activation of the SIM if the phones software build is not on the white-list then Republic will not let it activate (even carrier and international variants of the same phone will not activate

also note only the Motorola built Republic Custom ROM in Legacy phones can be activated on 2.0/1.0 plans


So looks like the easier way would be to start building the phone in Hong Kong, get it verified on csl, and then transfer the IMEI to Sprint in order to do it legally, get it registered as an “equivalent” phone to one of the existing ones (not that hard in HongKong), and then work on OS reporting so it registers as what it’s equivalent to. Thanks!

As for finding a better carrier, not an option. The wireless offloading first capability is absolutely necessary for what I’m doing and republic wireless really the only one that does it right. Otherwise I’d be looking at racking up roaming in 70+ countries for an hour and a half phonecall (which, believe me, even on a decent paycheck isn’t pleasant); and that’s for missions that could last months. The ONLY phones that are going to work for me are going to be crazy complex frakenphones. And since mission control is based in the US, it was to run on US towers when in the U.S. (And having two phones & laptop instead just added weight, is sub-optimal as well) [[FYI, in case it’s not obvious from this, I work in private space development; needs requirements get very… weird.]]


I’m going to leave this here, because you seem to think that this is the solution, but it seems to me that you’ve got a paper cut and you’re trying to solve it by building a new molecular band-aid.

Just some alternatives, that you could implement today:

  1. Use a Republic 3.0 phone on Sprint.
  2. Use any carrier and an app like Sideline or GoogleVoice. Sideline Premium seems like a particularly good fit.

Both could solve the issue today. No cross-border construction, with little chance of success.


Motorola was making all the technology for space exploration. That being said maybe buy a Motorola phone and remod that after you get the RW app to accept it. Then you can do anything you want to that phone. Just remember that RW has the last say on what can be done on their servers and can stop you in your tracks at any time with respects to the TOS.


Start with proven technology.


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