[FOSDEM] GSM BTS at Fosdem 2011?

Sylvain Munaut 246tnt at gmail.com
Tue Jan 11 14:27:16 CET 2011


> I won't dispute that it's interesting.  I just wonder if it's worth the
> bother.  I understand the "Mount Everest because it's there" argument, but
> it's a bit weak as only argument.

Well, we need to do test load of our software in real usage case ...
you can't easily test with thousands of phones by yourself :)

>  o A proper site-survey would need to be done to determine exactly how
>    hostile the wireless environment is.  We have some data about this
>    from years of experience rolling out 802.11, but GSM really is not
>    the same thing.>

True ...

GSM propagates way better and is capable of operating at -105 dBm signal level.
Also being in a licensed band, there is way less noise than in 2.4GHz
/ 5GHz bands.

I did some tests last year, which is why I said two BTS wouldn't quite
cut it. You'd need 10 BTS or so for a good coverage I think.
With 5 you could at least cover the area where most people are when
outside of talks.

>  o Commercially available equipment would need to either become a lot
>    cheaper or a lot more reliable than it currently is.  It makes no
>    sense to invest a fortune in hardware that is still under active
>    development and not proven to actually work.

nanoBTS _are_ very reliable and field tested equipement.

>  o Alternatively, and maybe preferably, a cisco-scale company in the
>    GSM business would need to be willing to lend us the necessary
>    equipment and the capable hands to manage it for the duration of
>    the event.

I doubt it will happen ... the people manufacturing nanoBTS / HSL /
... don't want us to drive their equipment with open source software.
For some of them and 3G femto, they even actively put protection to
prevent it and that we have to work around ...

>  o Someone with appropriate skills and sufficient time would have
>    to drive all this from the FOSDEM-side.  At present, none of the
>    FOSDEM team have any significant experience with GSM much beyond
>    making phone calls.  Nor do we have the time, the patience or the
>    background to deal with the regulatory authority to get a useful
>    licence to deploy this kind of technology.

Well, if all the other obstactle I cited were not in the way, I'd take
care of getting the licence and running the network.

> If anyone did show up to the FOSDEM team months in advance with a realistic,
> workable plan to deploy GSM at the conference (complete with costs to the
> FOSDEM organization in terms of insurance and manpower), we'd obviously be
> very enthusiastic about it.

That's exactly why I didn't raise the issue myself this year : Because
I didn't think it could be done _yet_.



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