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Low-Cost DIY Cell Network Runs On Solar

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the seattle-wireless dept.

The Internet 77

Shareable writes with word of the intriguing work of a Berkeley professor who has developed a "low-cost, low-power cell base station featuring easy, off-the grid deployment with solar or wind power; local services autonomous from national carriers; and an impressive portfolio of voice & data services (not just GSM). It's designed to connect rural areas in the developing world, but could have wider application like disaster recovery."

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77 comments

LTE? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231444)

Without LTE this thing is useless...

Until (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231462)

Until some holier-than-thou government decides to kill cellular networks and internet infrastructure, and then people will be scrambling to set these babies up.

Re:Until (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231580)

Wow, delusional and mentally unstable much? Better go check your ammo stockpile before some feds steal it! Lunatic.

Watch more news (3, Interesting)

Comboman (895500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231904)

Maybe you don't watch the news but governments have shut down cellular networks in Egypt, Iran, Syria and Libya this year. And if you think it's only third-world dictatorships, they also did in San Francisco and talked about doing it in London.

Re:Watch more news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37234446)

You forgot the USA.

Okay, so it was just the BART.

Re:Watch more news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37241272)

they also did in San Francisco

Learn to read.

Alabama Cell Network (ACN) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231672)

The real crowning achievement is ... you know those hamster wheels? You know how you could use lots of them to power a generator?

Ok. Picture this if you will.

Picture hundreds of large hamster wheels. And lots of otherwise useless ghetto niggers in those wheels, running. Now what could get them to keep running? Glad you asked!

It's so simple and brilliant I scare myself. Behind each nigger, put a picture of a cop, a bar of soap, a sprig of cotton, a college diploma, a Father's Day card, a marriage license, a belt, a written job offer, country music, contraceptives, a trophy bearing the word "nigger", a Republican banner, a noose, an attractive black woman with a nice personality, a microbrew beer, and a picture of a ghost.

In front of each nigger, put a piece of fried chicken, a slice of watermelon, a rap album, a basketball, a crack rock, some crab legs, a picture of a fat white woman, a trophy bearing the word "nigga", a Democrat banner, a welfare check, a pit bull or a rottweiler, 5 niglet kids with 5 different last names (some improvised), a photo of Al Sharpton, a Miller or Coors Light beer, pork chitterlings, the DVD set of the movie Roots, and a picture of an inner-city slum.

It's the classic carrot-and-stick method.

It's also the closest thing to a perpetual motion machne you'll ever witness.

Re:Alabama Cell Network (ACN) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232030)

How do you get food into this, and how do you remove the waste, genius?

Re:Until (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232278)

Then you get vacuumed up and tossed in jail by the FCC... the FCC has no teeth when it comes to dealing with companies, but they can find and put down pirate radio in minutes. Don't even need a huge van either with the latest directional finding equipment.

Re:Until (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37234524)

Correction: Once the FCC has issued a license to somebody and they are otherwise complying with the terms of that license by staying withing the frequency spectrum allocated and are being technically proficient (proper wattage and signal footprint), there is little the FCC can do to the license holder. It doesn't matter if they are a corporation or private individual.

Pirate radio stations are shut down because they cause interference with "legitimate" broadcasters and spectrum users. There is a legitimate public need being served here. Companies who hire a broadcast engineer who doesn't comply with the license or has broken equipment is also similarly dealt with by the FCC. Most commercial broadcasters or cell tower operators will bend over backwards to comply with such regulations on a technical level. It is the non-technical issues like call letter allocation, obscenity, or children's programming issues where the FCC has almost no teeth.

Disaster Recovery? (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231446)

That implies temporary use. And that would require everybody who wishes to use the systems to have compatible equipment beforehand, or somehow obtain compatible equipment in the midst of a disaster. Would somebody's AT&T phone work with it? I'm assuming no. Then what about radio licenses, etc? I'm just not seeing it.

Re:Disaster Recovery? (5, Insightful)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231510)

Look outside your tiny world a bit and realise that a large chunk of the world has settled on GSM for their phones.

A Quad-Band GSM phone would have no trouble connecting to something like this. With regards to licenses - if you're having to install something like this because of disaster recovery, then you can pretty much assume that any administrative level of government has its hands full with other stuff.

On a related note, there's an open-source GSM stack available, with a real-world island installation that (seems to) work fine -

http://openbts.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:Disaster Recovery? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37234558)

It is notable that the original article is explicitly using the OpenBTS software and hardware recommendations for their project. It is a good project to look through and something I'd love to experiment with myself in a couple of more remote areas that I know don't have cell phone coverage yet I know have on the order of hundreds of cell phone users who could legitimately be using this technology if it was available.

Re:Disaster Recovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37234656)

if you're having to install something like this because of disaster recovery, then you can pretty much assume that any administrative level of government has its hands full with other stuff.

Having been through several natural disasters and the ensuing recovery, I can safely say you are incorrect.

Re:Disaster Recovery? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239532)

Look outside your tiny world a bit and realise that a large chunk of the world has settled on GSM for their phones.

Isn't that what the "G" in "GSM" means? "Global except for the USA and South Korea"

According ot the Wikipedia article on GSM, the system covers around 80% of the world's mobile telephone market. So would that leave the US and South Korea combined as 20% of the world as counted by mobile subscriptions? Sounds a bit high. Possibly there are some other niche countries or services too, or they're counting analogue phones as well or something.

Re:Disaster Recovery? (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231516)

And that would require everybody who wishes to use the systems to have compatible equipment beforehand

I don't think you understand what this mini computer does.
It's a GSM tower & PBX.
It provides local calling/text/voicemail, web caching, and an audio BBS.
Ontop of all that, it can use a wireless backhaul to talk to the local telco.

It is explicitly designed for parts of developing countries that do not have cellular service
and for disaster areas where the local cell service is down.
People aren't picky about radio licenses in those situations.

Would somebody's AT&T phone work with it? I'm assuming no.

Yes, someone's AT&T phone would work with it, since AT&T uses GSM.
A Verizon phone wouldn't work with it though, since the USA is one of the few countries in the world that isn't 100% GSM.

GSM is shit here in the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232572)

Just ask any AT&T customer.

Solar or wind? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231474)

with solar or wind power

In other words it uses electricity.

Besides being redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231536)

What's your point?

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231560)

I think the inference is that it doesn't use much power, and probably has a UPS to deal with flaky electricity supplies (which is important in the developing world).

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231604)

The inference is that it uses less power and could have been said explicitly without the need to green wash it. That it has a UPS is hardly new worthy. Renewable resource can supply power and that power can be stored to provide consistent power. I just would have preferred that it was presented as using low power without the need for 'green speak'. Of course, maybe I've been reading too much /.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231740)

The "green" bit is not new, in Australia we've had solar powered mobile phone base stations and various repeaters for well over a decade just so they can be put on hilltops and other places where there's no existing electricity supply.
Using a lot less power and all the other features is the interesting bit. Very interesting.
I'm still amazed that now that we have solar powered pocket calculators people are pretending that the 1970s (or earlier) solution of powering equipment off the grid with solar is a big deal one way or another. It's mainstream now. A rich oil company executive or far right republican representative is still going to have solar and most likely wind power on their yacht.

Re:Solar or wind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232014)

The best one I saw was an oil well pump powered by solar.

Re:Solar or wind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231776)

How about you think for a second? Wind and solar is listed because it is OFF GRID power.

Do you really think that developing nations or disaster recovery efforts give a flying f about being green? These are scenarios that lack mains power and require alternate power sources.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232058)

Do you really think that ... disaster recovery efforts give a flying f about being green

Some of them do. I watched recently a documentary about a Japanese soap company who was helping a fire department in Kyushu to develop "green" extinguisher foam. They managed to make biodegradable, non-polluting foam that has the properties of the stuff used to extinguish industrial fires with (which is apparently quite bad for the environment), and they now can make it just as cheaply. I can't see a downside.

Now, if the Japanese companies could learn to market their products effectively abroad ...

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37233936)

It's mobile and it uses little power. Where you get the energy is a separate issue. Anything that uses electricity can use solar and wind power.

Re:Solar or wind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232128)

"Why should I care about the environment? Nobody lives there."

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232644)

Given that it's targeted for deployment in areas with poor or recently destroyed infrastructure, it isn't greenwash, it's practicality.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37233958)

It's mobile and uses little power that is what makes it practical. Where it gets the energy from is really a separate issue that's been tied to it. Stating things like this implies that some things cannot run off of solar or wind. My microwave, tv, light bulbs and everything else in my house can run off of solar or wind. What would you think if manufacturers of TV's started marketing them as capable of running off of solar or wind. It wouldn't mean anything at all.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231758)

The biggest problem in the developing world is a simple steady source of power. And neither solar, or wind cut it. There's been more than a few places that I've visited in Africa which have gotten small scale solar. And lo, there's enough to run a fridge. Or the light. Not both, and that's pretty much the norm.

If you want "green" power, you need to first have sustainable, and stable power.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

kheimerl (2448318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231792)

There have been a lot of recent advances in solar and wind. Our group, in particular, has focused on the storage side of the equation, storing the energy more efficiently and reducing waste. Either way, we are confident we can power this thing via only solar in areas without any traditional power infrastructure. However, you're right that stabilizing existing power sources would be a big win. We have a LOT of experience with power issues in rural India, and technologies to mitigate the problems. We'll be using whatever solution best fits the individual deployment situation.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

shipofgold (911683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37233042)

And what they didn't say is that power use is directly proportional to the number of handsets and the distance of those handsets. A 25W amplifier will require 25W of power....Talking to 1000 handsets is different than talking to 1 handset.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239498)

I'm definitely not a radio engineer, but that doesn't make much sense to me. More telephones will require more processing power, and more messages to be broadcast/received, but the power -> telephone relationship is not linear. Wireless signal strength is not diminished by the number of clients connected. I'd imagine the only wall they run into is processing power and available bandwidth on the backhaul.

Obviously, increasing coverage area will increase power consumption unless you get a more efficient antenna, but that's a bit of a no-brainer.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

shipofgold (911683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240268)

More handsets in a particular cell sector means that the cell is transmitting a much greater percentage of the time on the various signaling and traffic channels that would be quiet without calls. GSM has multiple channels. Some of them are "broadcast" channels that continuously transmit the GSM cell ID and other info. Other channels only transmit when paging a handset or signaling with a particular handset. More calls means the occupancy of these channels is much higher. Then there are the traffic channels which carry the "bearer" voice or data for the duration of a call. If there are 100 simultaneous conversations then you are transmitting voice on 100 separate frequencies. CDMA (3G UMTS/4G LTE/CDMA 2G/CDMA-2000) radio is different in this respect. It uses "spread spectrum" techniques where additional calls add to a single wide band signal. From the perspective of each handset, the calls on all the other handsets look like noise. But the principal is simlar....additional calls means more power consumption at the tower.

Re:Solar or wind? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231762)

Which means it is high cost, irrespective of what TFS asserts.

The purpose of a grid is to lower costs of getting electricity. If the costs were lower without that entire massive infrastructure, then that infrastructure would not exist! But does it exist? Yes it does! This makes this high cost, by definition that grid hookup is cheaper than stand-alone.

When you hook up something to grid, it costs you $10-$20/mo for maintenance + electricity. Heck, you can probably do this much cheaper too by some contract with a utility. This nests you low cost, high power system. Power == coverage, something that is somewhat important for cell phones. Otherwise why not just have a few booths with wired phones? Would be even cheaper?

So yes, another gimmick because it is "solar" so it is "cheap". Lol. Expensive installation for developing world. Yes, real winner, for the distributor and Chinese suppliers.

But then again, maybe Africa can run just fine with phones that work only during the day. Who needs a working phone at night anyway.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232092)

Without knowing the circumstances, your argument doesn't make sense at all. "Cheap" and "expensive" are relative concepts, and both are quite orthogonal to availability of resources. If an area does not have available the resources to build a comprehensive grid, or does not have the size to achieve economies of scale that would justify a grid, or having the grid in the area creates more problems than benefits, a piecemeal solution like may still provide a useful service, even if the unit costs would be higher than the average unit costs would be in a (different) area where grid is available. Also, why so angry?

Re:Solar or wind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37234482)

But then again, maybe Africa can run just fine with phones that work only during the day. Who needs a working phone at night anyway.

If only there was a way to store electricity.

Re:Solar or wind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231794)

so, you'd rather it burn coal? Why the butthurt over renewable energy sources? The market they're looking for is one where this stuff might not be available.

Re:Solar or wind? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#37234018)

with solar or wind power

In other words it uses electricity.

By the Lords of Asgard, let this not be free!

Will high roaming fees apply when useing this? (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231500)

Will high roaming fees apply when useing this?

Re:Will high roaming fees apply when useing this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231548)

If those base stations are owned by the townspeople anyway, I highly doubt that. Essentially, all telephone communications between them and to the friended neighbor towns would be free, provided they keep the thing working.

On that note: I would like to have my own WiMax base station on the roof (or the tower close by) please? (Imagine free high-speed Internet for you in your whole city.)

Re:Will high roaming fees apply when useing this? (0)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#37236314)

And the connection speed would be less than 300 baud. You're talking about sharing one connection with an entire town.

Re:Will high roaming fees apply when useing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37269580)

You pulled those 300 baud right out of your ass.
You are aware of the amount of people actually using it at the same time, and the actual bandwidth of the connection?
Also, in any case, it would definitely be better than nothing at all.

300 baud... you gotta be drunk!

Coming soon (4, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231522)

Another dead end project, killed by communications monopolies. Oh they'll find a reason. Not up to FCC standards. Using unlicensed frequencies. Interfering with existing communications equipment. Causes cancer. Whatever it takes. Don't you get it? They don't WANT you to have more access, unless you pay through the nose for it.

Re:Coming soon (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231564)

It isn't licensed nor is it likely to be licensed and that's ultimately a good thing. If you think that AT&T reception sucks now, just imagine how crappy it's going to be when it's competing with multiple other carriers on the same spectrum completely unlicensed.

In terms of a disaster area, this would likely help in the short term, but really you're better of using CB or HAM radios for that. Having unlicensed transmitters would hamper efforts to get the proper networks back on line.

Re:Coming soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231764)

http://www.lshs.cn
http://www.oritrans.com

Re:Coming soon (0)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231948)

I think the intent is that this equipment would be brought into an area by a telco and be used with some sort of connectivity (whatever is available) to link back to the rest of the world.
Then when the real towers are be brought back on line, this kit can be turned off.

Also, this kit (or kit like it) could be used to extend cell service to areas where there is none because building a proper tower is not fesable. Set this up and link it back to the telcos network somehow.

Re:Coming soon (1)

lucifuge31337 (529072) | more than 2 years ago | (#37233990)

I think the intent is that this equipment would be brought into an area by a telco and be used with some sort of connectivity (whatever is available) to link back to the rest of the world.

There is no need for this to perform that function. Carriers have enough money to own COWs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_on_wheels [wikipedia.org]

Re:Coming soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37233606)

I agree with you that it's another dead end project but for a somewhat different reason. For one, my company already makes a complete line of these that are currently on the market, and for disaster relief we donate them. There's a whole lot of other companies that do the same, it's a crowded marketplace and this would have to do something amazing to differentiate itself.

Careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231528)

Unless it comes with a auromated sentry gun. It will be taken apart and sold as scrap metal. Hell, even waterpumps are being destroyed and stolen.

Kurtis isn't a professor, he's a grad student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37231590)

It'd be nice if we had at least SOME fact-checking on /.

http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~kheimerl/

He's a cool guy though, and working on a neat project.

Some corrections and notes (5, Informative)

kheimerl (2448318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231746)

Hey, Kurtis Heimerl here. This work seems to have gone though the telephone game, so I thought I should make some slight corrections to the original (down?) sharable article. Firstly, I'm not a professor, I'm a graduate student (https://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~kheimerl/). Secondly, there wasn't enough mention of everyone involved. This project is an offshoot of the fantastic OpenBTS work done by David Burgess et al, now working under the Range Networks (http://www.rangenetworks.com/) banner. A lot of work on the open source projects have been done by Alexander Chemeris and Thomas Tsou, and they should be given credit as well. Lastly, the project is still under heavy development. It's worth noting the "prototype" used by Mobile Active had no clever power tricks, and was just a software modification of OpenBTS. We'll have something more substantial soon. Past that though, I'm happy to see people quickly understand what we're going for here. Great to know others think your work is interesting. We'll also be deploying a sample "BTS Application" at burning man this year. Check it out: (http://tier.cs.berkeley.edu/drupal/burningman)

Credit where credit due. (4)

Ion Berkley (35404) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231918)

OK, Kurtis beat me to it, but I'm glad he got the chance personally to acknowledge how much of what this project is based on is due to the efforts of Dave and Harvind, but also the vision of Matt Ettus who's built a company on the much more obscure proposition of open source hardware and enabled countless cool projects like and including this one.

Re:Credit where credit due. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232668)

I just wanted to say you guys have me almost motivated to try and apply for Berkeley just to be able to meet people like yourselves :) Sadly after the feeling of whoring myself out by agreeing to the EULA for the anti-plagarism website that my CC's English teachers were using to vet our papers (giving them a royalty free in-perpetuity license to our work to keep in their db for all eternity, also based off a Berkeley project.) I've lost any interest at pandering to the ever devolving state of organized education.

Alas.

Captcha was: Opulence.

Re:Some corrections and notes (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232988)

I'm working with The Serval Project attacking this same kind of communication problems from a different direction. Our focus is building a phone network with smart phones using their wifi radios. Back in June I spent a couple of days with Alexander Chemeris hacking OpenBTS and Serval's DNA [olsr.org] together to route a GSM phone call over a wifi mesh network to one of our android phones, that was a fun couple of days.

At some point soon we'd like to tackle the problem of phone number registration on a network of OpenBTS & Serval based devices, and assist in providing a connection to the global phone network. We'd also like to replace SIP as it isn't ideal for bandwidth constrained connections like satellite links.

Re:Some corrections and notes (1)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 2 years ago | (#37233666)

Hi Kurtis - or anyone else who has spent more time looking -

Is there a schematic or parts list available for the hardware? I looked over the paper but it was pretty high level. I've been wanting to play with exactly this sort of thing for some time. Sorry if I haven't googled enough...

Also: No data network plane yet? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37238862)

As I understand it, both Open BTS and the Range Networks commercial appliance version of it handle the voice/text part of GPS but the IP/Internet data part is still under construction. Is that correct?

The Telcos... (1)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231782)

...are preparing to release their forces as you read this.

Verizon: "RESISTANCE IS FUTILE."
AT&T: "You may fire when ready."
Sprint: "Release the Kraken!"
T-Mobile: "Seig Heil!"

Re:The Telcos... (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232298)

There's a great big world full of people that exists outside of the borders of the US, you know.

GSM phones are inexpensive and easy to find - and there's billions of people living in remote areas who don't have cell service. Like most of China, for example - you only hear about the "good" parts of that country, not the real China where people are called "peasants"

Inexpensive cell towers like described here could change their world - there's no entrenched monopoly to compete with and there's not enough profit to justify building a corporate cell tower. A few of these working in a mesh network would be cost effective and bring communication to a greater portion of the world's population.

Re:The Telcos... (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37235330)

You might want to change your battle cries based on recent GSM politics:

Verizon: "You may fire when ready."
AT&T: "RESISTANCE IS FUTILE"
T-Mobile: "Shit here come the Borg! Arm the phas- ... RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!"
Sprint: "Huh? What's going on over there guys?"

Maybe for developing areas... (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231912)

"...could have wider application like disaster recovery."

Carriers already have a low-cost (for them) DIY cellular disaster recovery option, they're called Cells on Wheels [wikipedia.org] or COWs. COWs have their own power sources and can be rolled in for disasters, or to augment coverage for large gatherings (sports events or concerts) and are already set up to integrate to their own established networks.

Re:Maybe for developing areas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37232460)

I'd really like to see one of those COW's at work in say Bangladesh. You know that country that regularly has major floods.
They just won't work.

These babies sould be deployed around the low lying areas all the time. No main power or fossil fuel needed to run them. Perfect.

I do wish people (mainly Americans I'm sad to say) would open their eyes to the world outside the lower 48 states. It does exist you know.
you can't always get in your gas guzzling SUV and head the 30 miles to Wallwart just to get a roll of Duck Tape you know. In some places just getting to a shop is more than a days walk.

I'm building a house close on an island close to the Tropic of Capricorn. Off the Grid? The nearet Grid (electricity) is 20Km+ away. There is a Cell tower about 10Km but it is not in line of sight to the house. If I put one of these on top of the hill behind the house I could get phone comms to the outside world. Great. Perfect. No need for a Satphone any more.

Open Hardware for Open Software (1)

Nemo's Night Sky (1051346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232090)

Am I to assume this [googleusercontent.com] is the long overdue open source hardware that was promised to compliment the OpenBTS software stack? Because last time I checked the OpenBTS [mybigcommerce.com] hardware store's cheapest offering is $3,500.00 for a kit that I assume powers two devices with a range of 5 feet. Either something BIG has happened or Low-Cost is a relative assessment.

Re:Open Hardware for Open Software (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37234626)

Low-cost is relative, although for a typical cell tower the cost is about $50,000-$100,000 just for the raw hardware, sometimes a fair bit more. By offering a much cheaper alternative, it become easier to amortize the cost of the equipment for what may be seasonal use only (like in remote areas like the Burning Man gathering or some mountain resort) or perhaps for a 3rd world village where you may only reasonably expect a couple of thousand dollars per year of revenue from a whole village or even small city. A conventional cell tower simply is never going to be built in those areas simply because the money isn't there.

Off the grid? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232168)

When you rely on a complex infrastructure to provide your hardware, and an equally complex infrastructure to give your hardware purpose - the idea that you are "off the grid" is laughable.

Re:Off the grid? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232350)

Well, yeah, you're not really off the grid unless you're living in a grass hut, wearing animal skins you tanned yourself, and chipping your own tools out of flint. But there is a gigantic continuum of "grid-ness" between someone living in a big city and someone living in a remote rural area without electricity, running water, paved roads, or telecommunications of any kind -- even if the person in the latter case makes a living from farming with tools manufactured in a big city far away. By your strict definition, practically nobody on Earth has lived off the grid for several thousand years, and that's just silly.

Re:Off the grid? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232404)

By your strict definition, practically nobody on Earth has lived off the grid for several thousand years, and that's just silly.

Why is it silly to point out the truth? That 'latter person' depends on industrialized society every bit as much as I (a confirmed suburbanite) do - and it's ludicrous to believe or behave otherwise.

Re:Off the grid? (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232520)

It's silly because "off the grid" is a modern phrase with a well-understood meaning referring to a way of life that does, in fact, exist in the modern world. You can try to redefine it all you want, but don't expect the rest of us to play along.

Re:Off the grid? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232612)

Had I claimed that they way of life didn't exist, you'd have a point. But I didn't. Had I redefined the buzzword, you'd have a point. But I didn't.

But I see your true colors now, you're not interested in discussion, you're just a drive-by jackass with an ability to parrot words he doesn't understand and an IQ somewhere south of the glass of iced tea at me elbow.

Re:Off the grid? (3)

BaldingByMicrosoft (585534) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232530)

Dear Sir,

To quote Wikipedia, which does a fair job of paraphrasing every other mainstream definition I can locate:

The term off-the-grid (OTG) or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-the-grid homes are autonomous; they do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, electrical power grid, or similar utility services. A true off-grid house is able to operate completely independently of all traditional public utility services.


I personally believe that there is some level of debate available, even within your chosen definition of OTG (which appears to involve complete independence from the fruits of industrialized societies on the planet). However, in addressing your original comment and using the generally accepted definition, I find nothing laughable and everything appropriate in consideration of this technology's potential legitimacy in an OTG environment.

Best regards.

Re:Off the grid? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232628)

The term off-the-grid (OTG) or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

In other words, the definition and the status are so fuzzy as to mean (Alice-In-Wonderland style) practically anything. That's not very useful at all. And you, like the writers of the article, seem to have missed that first and second paragraphs are at odds with each other. Hell, the second paragraph is at odds with itself.
 

I personally believe that there is some level of debate available, even within your chosen definition of OTG (which appears to involve complete independence from the fruits of industrialized societies on the planet).

Since I didn't define 'off-the-grid' - that would be something you've pulled from your ass.

Re:Off the grid? (2)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232852)

In a nutshell, you made what you thought was some really smart (but actually just smart-ass) comment, got called on it and now refuse to accept even the simplest, understandable-to-someone-with-the-IQ-of-a-glass-of-iced-tea definition, and have to resort to name calling and insults to protect your fragile ego. Get over yourself.

Re:Off the grid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37233250)

Can we please get rid of the three letter acronym OTG immediately or come up with one that isn't ambiguous between on/off the grid?

Hardware Question (2)

phreakngeek (1250360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37233664)

Can someone tell me what hardware they're using? OpenBTS traditionally runs on USRP1 but I have a USRP1 at home and the picture doesn't look similar to what I have. It would be nice to run something like OpenBTS without spending ~$1500US.
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