back to article DIY GSM network is go

Delegates attending the Hacking At Random conference managed to string together their own GSM network, demonstrating just how ubiquitous, and modular, mobile telephony has become. The network runs from antennae slung from a tree and connected to a PC running OpenBSC, a GPL-licensed free network infrastructure stack …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    Scoring the lash-up.

    Use of Gaffer tape to hold stations to trees: +1

    Use of commercial antenna rather than rolling their own from wire coat hangers: -1

    Use of proper equipment boxes with cable glands rather than tupperware and hot glue: -5

    Tsk tsk. All a bit too professional for proper hackers really.

  2. My New Handle

    Most excellent ...

    ... now we can tell that international cartel, the GSMA, to fuck off and let us get on with building the mobile networks that we really want to see deployed.

    Lets face it - a group of technically oriented keenies could hardly do a worse job than the incumbents across Europe. National governments should employ the Hackers from Hacking At Random to show the GSMA members how things should be done.

    Mines the one with Power to the People writted large on the back

  3. Andrew Barratt
    Thumb Up


    Thats really cool.

    Shame that you'd no doubt be shot by the police.

  4. My New Handle

    @Andrew Barratt

    "Shame that you'd no doubt be shot by the police."

    Only for photographing it ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    "Of course, deploying such a thing without a licence would be illegal, and hard to conceal..."

    Not if they used double sided sticky tape.

    Mines the one with a Blue Peter badge

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Now THAT

    would, as well as being useful in disaster situations, make a fantastic tool for a man-in-the-middle attack.

    Stick a small, powerful transmitter in a truck near $target's building. Force a network reconnect with a GSM jammer of some sort. Their phone connects to your AP as it's the strongest source, you relay audio over VOIP to its intended destination- and to a recording device.

    As an addition you could intercept what their phone sent to your base station to connect and use that data to set up a legitimate-seeming connection from another mobile- meaning that even Caller ID would work for the recipient. Ensure your spoofed phone is connected to the "correct" AP and even checking the caller's geographical location wouldn't seem particularly odd.

    Have a look in the NoTW and other newspaper's offices- they're probably drooling.

    Bloody impressive, though!

  7. Karim Bourouba
    Big Brother

    On a sensible note

    I like the idea that this could be deployed to a disaster zone sharpish. It makes me happy that people are doing this sort of thing, if not for that very reason.

    But isnt there a slightly more sinister edge to this? Should nefarious groups get hold of the knowhow, then they would also have a GSM network that only they use, and quite possibly noone would be any the wiser. They may even have better 3G coverage than me...

    With that said though, I am most impressed with this and I am genuinely interested to see what happens next.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ TeeCee

    +1 Internets for use of the word "gland"

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    @My New Handle

    What kind of network is it that we want deploying?

    The GSMA has provided the interoperability and scale that has made this kind of development possible. And, yes, the base station technology has become completely commodified but that wasn't the case 20 years ago when the first networks went up.

    Real time network management, cell-handovers, billing info, etc. still have to be done but the move of the vendors to providing the whole network is indeed part of that change. And consider the time, labour and legal costs actually building the damn network.

    All this so we can jabber from coast to coast. Yes, the licences were largely licences to print money but nobody forced to buy and use mobile phones.

    As the article suggests the real use case might be installing "field networks" in remote areas.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Most excellent ...

    "... now we can tell that international cartel, the GSMA, to fuck off and let us get on with building the mobile networks that we really want to see deployed."

    First we need someone to strip these cartels of their patent stockpiles which they would seek to use to lock out vendors and operators who aren't fully paid-up in their little extortion schemes. Then they can fuck off.

  11. the spectacularly refined chap


    Of course, exactly the same conference also showed how pitifully insecure GSM networks are anyway...

  12. Sordid Details
    Thumb Down

    Someone's getting over-excited

    "Projects like this demonstrate just how rapidly GSM could be deployed into a disaster area to provide coverage"

    Like we've already been doing for years you mean? Temporary BTS sites are nothing new, self contained on a trailer with a wind-up mast...Orange use them every year at Glastonbury. Setting up the BTS is easy - it's getting back-haul to the rest of the network that's the tricky part.

  13. Alex 32


    Yes, very intriguing.. Let's see what happens next

  14. Thomas Kent 1

    A nit to pick

    @On a sensible note

    "quite possibly noone would be any the wiser."

    Since WHEN did the words NO ONE become one word?

    I've noticed this a lot (also two words) lately on various blogs and website comments sections.

  15. Glen Turner 666

    Disaster zone use

    Where would the electrickery to recharge the handsets come from?

    Mine's the coat with the phone with the flat battery in the pocket.

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