21 October 2009

Astricon 2009

We took OpenBTS on the road again last week, to Astricon in Glendale, Az. I brought one of the Burning Man test units for show and tell and a desktop kit in case anyone wanted to see a demo.

My first contact at the conference was with Adrian Georgescu. He has some great tools for scalable, reliable VoIP and media networks. If we ever build a large core network for OpenBTS, his approach would be perfect. We also had a long discussion about OpenBTS and he offered some good comments about how it might fit into commercial markets and the difficulties of approaching some of those markets.

I was scheduled to speak in the last session of the conference. I did not originally plan to give a demo in the talk, but everyone who knew me kept saying they would be there for the "demo". So on the morning before my talk I rearranged the slides to make room for a demo, lest I disappoint. (Here are the slides, all 11.4 MB of glorious PDF.) The talk was well-received. I did pretty much the same demo as I had done at eComm a few months back. (I won't be making to next eComm in Amsterdam, but these conferences are very good and Lee Dryburgh does a great service by organizing them.) Anyway, it's a phone system. I make a call. Go figure. The demo took a fun new turn, though, when audience members whose phones had attached to the cell started calling one of my test the handsets on the podium. Audience participation was a nice touch. It made the system real, not just a demo trick. That evening I was walking down a sidewalk and a bunch of guys sitting outside a sushi bar called me over, "Hey! OpenBTS! We want to get you a beer!" Well, that's OK.

I also ran into people from small rural VoIP carriers. They had never taken the idea of entering the cellular market seriously, first because of really stupid spectrum regulation and second because the minimum cost of rolling out service is something like $200k for core network equipment, even for a really small network. Since OpenBTS doesn't need core network equipment, we can drop that entry cost to something like $50k, maybe a lot less if you are already in the wifi business. Can getting rid of the cost barrier change the politics of spectrum regulation? We will do our best to find out.

But for now we're patching bugs and cleaning up a the next release. Then it's back on the road for Vienna. Later.


  1. I'm not sure if there is anyone else in Canada that would like to offer cell service, but if there is this may be of interest.

    I have done some research in to spectrum regulation in Canada where I live, and this is what I have found.

    First I should say that we do not have cell service, of any kind!

    Anyways to summarize my findings:
    It looks like new cellular providers in Canada can get spectrum if the incumbent provider is not interested in serving that area.

    Also the government will require that you offer an inter connection with the PSTN and that you offer roming to the incumbent providers.

    Here is a link for the document that pertains to new cellular providers:


    Daniel Mundall va7drm+bts(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Hi David,
    I was wondering if I could get in contact with the small rural VoIP carriers that you where talking about?

    Daniel Mundall va7drm+bts(at)gmail(dot)com

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