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Thread: Recommendaton for U.S. Attorney to review Motorola Solutions Inc. business practices for RICO violations

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  1. #1
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    Dec 21, 2011
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    Default Recommendaton for U.S. Attorney to review Motorola Solutions Inc. business practices for RICO violations

    This is an open letter to John R. Lausch Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. This district is where Motorola Solutions Inc. headquarters (North America) resides, thus it is in his jusdiction.

    I am concerned certain business practices, specifically selling fee-based firmware upgrades for the ASTRO25 series portable/mobile radios, which are also commonly known as "XTS" and "XTL" series, used by public-safety and government users, may be influenced by corrupt practices.

    The Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) specifically makes provisions for the investigation and prosecution of organized criminal conduct, within a corporation.

    The crimes I am alleging Motorola Solutions Inc. has been engaged in, relate to artificially creating "bugs" (computer code errors) for the purpose of enticing a customer to pay for a firmware upgrade, to correct the artificial "bug" which did not exist in the previous version of firmware. It is highly unlikely dozens of features/functions mysteriously stopped working properly, to the point where a firmware update is required to correct these issues.

    Given the critical nature of public-safety communications equipment, how many (quantity) of these devices are deployed, the distribution costs of the software/firmware and the potential liability involved, it seems very unlikely Motorola would've retained the employment/services of any contractual or permanent employee, if they had unintentionally "broken" so many features in firmware, over the last 15 years this product line has been marketed.

    The likelihood of an organized conspiracy to generate revenue for the company seems much more realistic, given what Motorola Solutions Inc. stands to gain from the revenue generated by selling firmware upgrades to customers.

    A conservative estimate of 150,000 subscriber devices deployed within the United States seems reasonable. Many large departments maintain thousands of these radios within their fleets. At a cost of US$75 per subscriber, per upgrade, a total gross profit of $11,250,000.00 is achieved, each time a customer wishes (or is forced to) upgrade their subscriber firmware. Is is reasonable to assume this financial figure has easily exceeded US$100,000,000.00 from world-wide, life-of-device upgrades.

    When a customer who has purchased a radio with a particular version of firmware (R12.00.00 for example), pays to upgrade their radio firmware to R13.00.00, they expect the superseding firmware will offer better performance than the previous version. In nearly every firmware release, there are "known issues" or "issue updates" which are notated. Some of these "issues" cause defect to a previously-functioning radio, to the point where the feature or function in question, becomes unreliable, unstable or causes system-wide degradation of service for other users.

    Motorola then offers an "update" to fix these "bugs". Often, the update may be supplied free-of-charge, if the customer complains about it loudly enough or identifies the "bug" within a specific window of time. Otherwise, the complimentary firmware upgrade will cost the customer money.

    It is unethical to intentionally break a functioning piece of public safety gear, in order to stimulate revenue/financial gain for a company.

    Attached is a PDF document which contains a complete history of ASTRO25-family firmware release notes. Specifically, items listed as "Issue update" are fixes for specific "bugs". Often, those "bugs" (features or functions) were not broken in prior releases. Examples of intentional sabotage of working features are as follows:

    R12.00.17 firmware:
    - Mode change to APCO 25 after power up on Type II, XTS/XTL cannot affiliate
    - If XTS/XTL is powered up on an invalid TG, it will affiliate every two seconds
    - XTS/XTL will continually deregister and re-register with ARS server
    - In SNet, XTS/XTL will display FAIL 001 if changed from APCO to Type II

    R12.00.18 firmware:
    - Rebanded XTS/XTL can't communicate with Enhanced Privacy Plus systems

    R14.00.00 firmware:
    - XTS/XTL Dropped Announcement Group Audio on Smart X System

    R14.00.03 firmware:
    - XTS/XTL out of range even in strong signal
    - XTS/XTL may not roam properly and cannot affiliate to a site
    - XTS/XTL forces Conventional channel into Direct mode in TalkGroup Scan
    - XTS2500 B model ABC switch appears to switch positions by itself
    - Out of Range tone still plays when tones are muted

    R15.00.00 firmware:
    - Subscriber unit lock-up

    R15.00.07 firmware:
    - Mobile FLASHport upgrades for radios with O5, M5 and O3 CH fail
    - Long audio holes in Conventional scan
    - Multiple issues with slow roaming, affiliation and missed calls

    R15.00.09 firmware:
    - Mobiles intermittently reset or go into Maintenance mode

    R16.00.00 firmware:
    - XTS missing audio related to MSEL

    R16.00.01 firmware:
    - XTL5000 not affiliating to the system
    - Multiple issues with slow roaming, affiliation and missed calls (4M radios only)

    - Slow scan in Linear Simulcast

    - Subscriber Reset in P25 Trunking

    - Mobile Subscriber displays 09/10 error or fails to receive/transmit

    - XTS5000 intermittently unable to unmute on a Digital TG in multisystem scan

    - Telephone interconnect/Private call will not terminate

    These are just a small sampling of the investigation-worthy behavior I'm describing. It is impossible for some of these features to have become "broken", when they were previously working for more than a decade (or longer, in some instances).

    Many of the suspicious items outlined above are critical failures, meaning for some customers, they would have had no choice but to upgrade (pay) for firmware updates, to correct "bugs" introduced in the last upgrade they performed.

    It's important to be aware these radios take 5-15 minutes each, to ugprade. For a large fleet of 2,000 radios, this is a massive undertaking and costs the customer a significant financial sum to complete.

    In subsequent years, Motorola decided to stop the practice of charging for firmware upgrades. This applies to the Motorola TRBO (MOTOTRBO) line, the APX family and other low-tier units.

    I'm making this complaint after a radio engineer in Canada was recently charged with fraud, for circumventing the process of paying Motorola money for firmware upgrades, so he could maintain a stable fleet of radios for emergency services workers. Motorola claims they were defrauded approximately $18,000 through this "scheme". That's like a break-and-enter thief complaining they got a flat tire from a nail on a victim's driveway, and they're entitled to have their repair bill covered.

    Please investigate this alleged scheme to determine if there's merit to my concerns.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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