Mozilla axes MLS

Here are the news:

New API access keys will not be granted going forward (and pending requests deleted), Mozilla say. In late March, POST data submissions will return 403 responses. Finally, on June 12, all 3rd-party API keys will be removed and MLS data only accessible by Mozilla.

Do we have alternatives? What configuration changes are we going to need? I was suspecting of this outcome…


Issue being discussed by the microg team:

As you can see, this is an “existential” threat to microg project. Anyone with experience in alternative Android ROMs will know that without the location services the apps and usability of the device goes down dramatically. Basically you need to use it without it. Also in the past myself I always used UnifiedNLP with custom ROM. This is really sad.


Is there no alternative good working location service? Would be great if the Iode team could make a statement to this issue

Keep Calm and let’s see what happens…I’m sure microG has it on it’s radar…

The Mozilla Location Service (MLS) was introduced in 2013. MLS is an open geolocation service that allows devices to determine their location based on network infrastructure such as Bluetooth beacons, cell towers, and Wi-Fi access points. This network-based location service complements satellite-based navigation systems such as A-GPS. The service has been used by many open source projects to date.
Community collects data

The service relies on a community of contributors ranging from individuals collecting data, to developers using and developing the service, to companies sharing information across their infrastructure. The data was collected primarily via the Android app MozStumbler. From Firefox 35 for Android onwards, a corresponding function was also integrated there. Skyhook Holdings, Inc’s 2019 patent claims made the service increasingly difficult to maintain, so it is now being discontinued. MozStumbler had to be shut down in 2021 to resolve the patent disputes.
Source code still available

Mozilla will retire MLS to external users on a five-point schedule from March 13, 2024 to July 31, 2024. After that, the project will only be used for Mozilla’s internal services. The source code will continue to be available under the Apache License 2.0. There are various projects considering continuing the service in a jurisdiction that doesn’t care about patents. The GrapheneOS Foundation has been planning such a service for a long time.

OrganicMaps and OsmAnd+ also works very reliably for me under iodéOS with pure A-GPS and without NLPs and gets a GPS fix very quickly

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I was going to write same after testing, also tested DivestOS… Solution is to disable MLS and the local GPS data (also broken). Leave Nominatim. It works and I am no longer 50km away.

Regarding microg it was the wrong call to discard UnifiedNLP over depending only from MLS. The degradation of the service was palpable. Main programmer not making any commits for now to solve this. A-GPS only takes a bit longer to lock, but works. I don’t have much trust on the microg developers to solve this at the moment.

This location service should be public service, and sure it costs less than GNSS networks.

For inside my home I will try to solve providing location from wifi hotspots if I figure this out with OpenWRT

Thanks for this tip. The location search now works better and much faster for me than before with MLS. I only have Request from Hotspot and Use Nominatim activated (Samsung S10+). I do not need more.