back to article Build your own mobile network for the low, low price of US$2,000

Universities and mobile network engineers can have a crack at service development for around $US2,000, courtesy of a development kit launched by Range Networks. The open source mobile systems vendor is designed to provide a quick entry point for developers and experimenters: along with the OpenBTS network environment and the …


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  1. Herby

    Why not just...

    Provide the simple 100mW "base" station. That ought to be enough. The GSM phones are easy to come by, just go to a local store and ask for a few "trade-ins".

    Evil twin dreams of setting up small cell site to capture information.

    A URL would be nice as well.

    1. Knoydart

      Re: Why not just...

      Some contries had or still have CDMA only 2G networks so GSM handsets are not a bad idea if you want to play out of the box. If I had a couple of thousand to spare, would be great to play with... Time for an El Reg review of the kit?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Why not just...

      Because it is supposed to be all the kit you need for a complete experimental mobile network in a box...


      About the only real stumbling block seems to be the absence of a Non-operational license, but OFCOM charges £50 pa for a development license, (see ). The application form does require some technical understanding of radio transmitters and the base station specification, beyond the details RangeNetworks' publish.

      About the only flaw in the product seems to be no data service other than SMS.

  2. Christian Berger

    I've used one of those

    It was essentially an USRP (1) with the appropriate modules and a laptop. You set your mobile phone to get into the network, then you'll get a message telling you to choose your telephone number... then you get an error message but you are in and can telephone with everyone else in the network.

    In Germany test licenses, which don't allow you to connect it to the public telephone network, are reasonable expensive at somewhere around 100-400 Euros for the first, and about 50 Euros for each following year or so. The values seem to fluctuate a lot.

    Amateur GSM networks are now completely feasible and larger CCC events now typically have at least one GSM network in productive use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've used one of those

      Argh - really really really want, this would be proper hacking around at home - you could create a private mobile phone network (yes it wouldn't be that practical due to range limitations etc but it would still be awesome)!

      I never got to finish off my SDR project during my Masters due to the high hardware costs at the time. Gah...

      On a different tack, if you had a large premises (farm, estate, island) could you create a private mobile phone network for everyone within it, and then have an "exchange" onto a regular fixed landline at your base station if you needed to call out?

      Just need to figure out a way of coming up with a spare couple of K...

      EDIT: Oops, in my excitement I replied to the previous comment rather than at the end, sorry...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've used one of those

      in 2012 there were more than 120 of these OpenBTS preconfigured systems sold from a single distributor somewhere in the EU.

      I've got one and I'm a white hat, Christian and Prof Jondrahl probably have a few, GCHQ don't really need them as they can afford the R&S pro-stuff, so who have got the other **hundreds** of these subversive systems?

      Can I mention 'News of the World'(*) without risk?, this week, I'm sure they **don't** have one!


      (*) of course I mean 'News of the World' which was a 1977 album by the popular beat-combo 'Queen'

    3. Robert Forsyth

      Re: I've used one of those

      I saw and used one (with my own phone) at Oshcamp2012 in Hebden Bridge, also a smaller sysmoBTS. The guys demonstrating it had provided a private mobile network for a festival in a desert in the USA

  3. Khoos

    Add the 1800 MHz dect guard band...

    I don't know about the UK but in the Netherlands it is allowed to start your private gsm network in the bit of the 1800 MHz band that was once 'dect guard band' but which falls within the 1800 MHz bands supported by GSM handsets (rules apply for power, but a license/registration is not needed).

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