sysmocom GmbH joins the Telecom Infra Project

Berlin (Germany), Feb 22, 2016 -- sysmocom GmbH joins the Telecom Infra Project initiated by Facebook along with Deutsche Telekom, EE, SK Telekom, Intel Corporation, Nokia, and several other members of the mobile industry.

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) was announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year. It aims at bringing operators, infrastructure providers, system integrator, and other technology companies together to collaborate on the development of new technologies and re-imagine traditional approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure.

As a TIP member, sysmocom is happy to share its novel Open Source based 'custom tailored telecom' approach with other TIP members.

The use of Free and Open Source Software based cellular infrastructure can accelerate innovation and help to significantly reduce the capital and operational expenses of deploying and running cellular networks. Commoditizing telecom infrastructure is a key step towards enabling communications for the next billions of subscribers in emerging and developing countries, where classic architectures and business models are struggling with the low average revenue per user (ARPU).

For more information about TIP, please visit http://telecominfraproject.com/. For more information about sysmocom, please visit http://sysmocom.de/ or contact us at info@sysmocom.de.

Supporting Quotes

"By developing cellular infrastructure as part of the Free and Open Source Software community, sysmocom's approach has always been a collaborative one. We're happy to bring this to the table and share our experience with the telecom industry as part of TIP." -- Harald Welte, General Manager of sysmocom GmbH

About us

sysmocom was founded five years ago to spearhead the development of Free and Open Source Software implementations of cellular protocol stacks and network infrastructure elements. We have since been developing network components for 2G/2.5G/2.75g and 3G technologies from the radio access network in to the core network.

Adding deployment options

On our BTS and BSC hardware products we are using a stripped down read-write GNU/Linux system. Like many GNU/Linux systems there is a package manager to install additional software and to manage upgrades.

This is a great way to start configuring and modelling the system. One can adjust the network configuration for VLANs or static IP addresses, install and run additional software on the BTS itself without requiring extra equipment. But how to replicate the setup when one is deploying many devices that have a very similar configuration? Some of our Customers have opted for other approaches and use read-only systems, different ways to manage the configuration and different upgrade mechanisms.

Earlier this year we have started a project with the goal to add a new mass deployment option for our products. The goal is to have full system updates (instead of package based) with a reliable rescue system to correct problems. The main design goals were:

  • Cryptographically sign the upgrade so it can be applied remotely.
  • Upgrade an entire system on an unused partition
  • The system itself should be read-only and not be modified.
  • A reboot should erase uncommitted changes
  • A factory reset should remove the user configuration
  • Easily manage the configuration of a specific system

The biggest benefits are that with a read-only system filesystem corruption (being accidentally by the user or the system itself) is less likely to occur and more easy to recover from, when managing many systems it is easier to verify that all of them run the same software and they can all be upgraded with the same command. This is easing mass deployment and administration of the system. Customers will be able to install their own cyrptographic keychain and continue to create the images they need. We have started to use an early version and will make the new system generally available throughout Q4.

Improving OsmoSGSN and the PCU

Throughout the last quarters we have greatly improved the OsmoSGSN (which is part of the OpenBSC project). The software is more reliable, handles re-starts and error conditions more gracefully, e.g a long standing reliability issue with an unreachable PCU and segmented SNDCP messages leading to a crash has been fixed, LLC and status mismatches are handled more quickly.

On top of the reliability improvements we created a protocol that allows another process to handle authentication and access-control of subscribers. We have implemented this protocol and combined it with our SS7 stack. The outcome is that OsmoSGSN can be used in real GSM/EDGE networks.

The last missing piece is our Packet Control Unit (PCU). The software has been reliable in lab environments and we have started the work to make it production ready. Our initial focus has been on reliability and throughput for GSM and we made great progress. The PCU has a lot of freedom in terms of scheduling and has to make trade-offs between the battery life of a phone and throughput. Our initial focus is on improving throughput.

We will continue to work on the PCU this quarter and intend to begin work on EDGE support.

osmo-lea6t boards now fully assembled

Due to popluar demand, we have switched the osmo-lea6t product from being a DIY (do-it-yourself) kit to a fully assembled product.

As a result from quantity machine production, the pricing of the fully-assembled product is only slightly higher than that of the DIY kit before.

We hope this will enable more users to benefit from GPS-disciplined, high-precision clocking. No SMD soldering skills are required anymore!

sysmocom announces outdoor sysmoBTS 2050

sysmocom announces its latest product, the sysmoBTS 2050 outdoor GSM/GPRS base transceiver station.

The sysmoBTS 2050 provides two transceivers (TRX) with a total RF power output of 10W. Its dust and water tight outdoor case is IP67 rated and intended for mounting directly at the antenna pole, removing the effect of cable losses in long feeder lines.

The primary use case of sysmoBTS 2050 is the operation of private or public mobile networks, especially in rural regions with no existing cellular coverage. The low power budget of the BTS with integrated PA, LNA, splitter and combiner is typically 55W at 24V DC, making it ideal for solar powered remote sites.

Based on the proven technology of the sysmoBTS 1002 indoor base station, it can not only work as a GSM BTS, but it can also be operated in BTS with integrated BSC mode, or equipped with the NITB software to run a complete autonomous network without any external components or network elements.

sysmoBTS 2050 is available immediately to the global market of customers outside the European Union.

Software updates for the sysmoBTS

Every significant piece of software may contain defects that might lead to failure and our software is no exception. The fundamental difference between other vendors of GSM equipment and us is how we deal with them and learn from them.

The sourcecode of our software is maintained in publicly accessible git repositories. Everyone has access to all the sourcecode and tools. Customers will be able to explore the sourcecode and see if we have resolved the underlying error or just applied a band aid for the specific problem that was being reported. On top of that we are constantly improving our test coverage on all pieces of our software stack. Our tests and their results are publicly available as well.

In the last weeks we have worked to improve the reliability of the BTS software under very high load and improved the BTS manual to explain how to tune for extremely high load. Parts of the tests was a manual simulation of a RACH DoS that we can trigger from our BSC/NITB solution. This will attempt to allocate all logical channels and immediately re-allocate them when they are closed due to a link failure. During these tests, we have noticed some minor memory leaks and have resolved them as well. Currently there are no known reliability issues with the BTS software.

We have updated our testing repositories with new builds of the BTS software and will merge these packages into the stable repository in the coming weeks.

Beta version of GPRS support for sysmoBTS released

sysmocom is happy to announce the availability of a frist beta/testing release of GPRS support for its sysmoBTS product.

While private/custom GPRS networks have been supported in the sysmoBSC/IP in NITB mode for years, it so far required a third-party BTS model with Gb/IP support. This time is coming to an end, as the sysmoBTS itself now includes a packet control unit (PCU) enabling customers to run not only GSM but also GPRS services from within the sysmoBTS.

The current beta release of the PCU is available as software update via the package feeds for the sysmoBTS. In case of doubt, please contact sysmocom support for assistance.

The PCU already supports multi-slot down-link assignments and all four GRPS coding schemes (CS1 to CS4), but has a number of shortcomings such as no timing advance and power control loops. In its current form, the PCU is only recommended for laboratory setups or small indoor cells.

Interested developers can find the full source code of the PCU at the osmo-pcu Free Software project: osmo-pcu, which has been jointly developed by Fairwaves and sysmocom, with much-appreciated funding from customers.

sysmocom announces availability of sysmoBTS 1002

sysmoBTS unit (front side)

sysmocom is happy to announce today the availability of its sysmoBTS 1002 product, a small form-factor, low-power, quad-band GSM Base Trasceiver Station.

sysmoBTS 1002 applications range from indoor coverage for traditional operators to private GSM networks as well as remote locations such as oil rigs, disaster relief operations, as well as rural coverage. Using the field-proven OpenBSC software stack, it is not only able to function as classic BTS, but also able to run the BSC or even the complete core network (MSC/HLR/AUC) function inside the BTS.

Thus, using sysmoBTS 1002, it is possible to run a fully-autonomous small GSM network with voice call and SMS capability in less than 10W power consumption.

Unlike other all traditional BTS products, sysmoBTS 1002 is a quad-band BTS, permitting software re-configuration to any of the four GSM bands (850/900/1800/1900 MHz). It also covers the railway GSM (R-GSM) band.

To find out more, check the sysmoBTS 1002 product page or the data sheet.

Pricing information depends on your overall project / volume and is available upon request. Evaluation kits are available immediately.

sysmocom webshop opens

We have launched our webshop and among our first GSM products you will be able to find the SIMtrace Hardware Kit, SIM-Cards, GSM Antennas, and various things related to the Motorola C1xx phones supported by the osmocomBB project. We are working on the shop infrastructure and look into adding more GSM products to the webshop soon.