OsmocomBB SDR PHY, a project to replace the currently-proprietary Layer 1 of the Osmocom GSM mobile baseband stack, has announced a major milestone: unlocking the ability to run a cellular network on any radio frequency, including unlicensed frequencies.
The Osmocom project was founded with a laudable goal: to create a stable software stack with supporting tools for a variety of mobile communications standards, all of which is based on open source technologies. In the years since its launch, the project has enjoyed considerable success – but the physical layer of its mobile baseband subproject OsmocomBB has been locked away behind proprietary technology. Enter OsmocomBB SDR PHY: an effort to replace proprietary Layer 1 PHY with software-defined radio devices.
“A few weeks ago, the first milestone has been completed – ‘Ability to run GSM network on any frequency,'” writes Osmocom’s Vadim Yanitskiy. “We have managed to run a GSM network in 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band, connect an SDR-based phone and successfully tested the regular subscriber’s activity, such as SMS messaging and voice calls. More details about this feature will be shared soon.”
Besides opening up the telecommunications stack still further, the OsmocomBB SDR PHY project’s milestone achievement means that it will theoretically be possible for enthusiasts and hobbyists to run small-scale low-power GSM networks on unlicensed spectrum in the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) bands without the need to apply for a formal licence – a move which opens the technology up to a considerably wider audience than ever before.