09 August 2009

The Man Burns in 27 Days

Plans to run a cellular system at Burning Man are well under way. We have an FCC license and spectrum coordination with Verizon in the GSM850 band. We have most of our equipment in hand and are starting final assembly this week. We have a store-and-forward SIP/SIMPLE server, thanks to John Gilmore. We have official camp placement and early access to the site. We have a block of 10,000 iNum phone numbers in country code +883, thanks to Voxbone. We have a 70' tower and an installation crew, thanks to Martin Pelayo. Things are on schedule and a lot of people have stepped forward to help us and we thank them all.

We heard a story that Larry Harvey was very concerned when he got wind of our plans, thinking we'd turn the Playa into some kind of chatfest. I'd like to assure Mr. Harvey and anyone else that we don't have the bandwidth to provide normal calling service to 50,000 people, nor do we have roaming and settlement agreements with cellular carriers. We couldn't light up BRC with normal speech service if we wanted to, and we don't want to. Want we can do is provide speech service for about 1,000 early subscribers, which we assume will mostly be early arrivals, BM staff, Rangers, DPW, perimeter patrols, etc. After that, we will have enough bandwidth left to run about 1,500 SMS transfers per minute, allowing us to provide text service to pretty much anyone who wants it. We are hoping participants will find this service useful, as a means of locating friends, meeting new people and getting information about Playa events.

We'll post more on the details of using the service soon, after we have made a few final decisions on network configuration and policies.


  1. I Can't wait to hear how it works!

  2. wow, Is there anything I can help?

  3. Absolutely. If you're serious, please contact me at dburgess (@) jcis.net.

  4. I just sent an email to you, check your mailbox;)