FCC comes to CCC? "No GSM test network at 32C3"

coderman coderman at gmail.com
Sun Nov 15 13:16:44 PST 2015


No GSM test network at 32C3

Harald Welte


I currently don't assume that there will be a GSM network at the 32C3.

Ever since OpenBSC was created in 2008, the annual CCC congress was a
great opportunity to test OpenBSC and related software with thousands
of willing participants. In order to do so, we obtained a test licence
from the German regulatory authority. This was never any problem, as
there was a chunk of spectrum in the 1800 MHz GSM band that was not
allocated to any commercial operator, the so-called DECT guard band.
It's called that way as it was kept free in order to ensure there is
no interference between 1800 MHz GSM and the neighboring DECT cordless

Over the decades, it was determined on a EU level that this guard band
might not be necessary, or at least not if certain considerations are
taken for BTSs deployed in that band.

When the German regulatory authority re-auctioned the GSM spectrum
earlier this year, they decided to also auction the frequencies of the
former DECT guard band. The DECT guard band was awarded to Vodafone.

This is a pity, as this means that people involved with cellular
research or development of cellular technology now have it
significantly harder to actually test their systems.

In some other EU member states it is easier, like in the Netherlands
or the UK, where the DECT guard band was not treated like any other
chunk of the GSM bands, but put under special rules. Not so in

To make a long story short: Without the explicit permission of any of
the commercial mobile operators, it is not possible to run a
test/experimental network like we used to ran at the annual CCC

Given that

    the event is held in the city center (where frequencies are
typically used and re-used quite densely), and
    an operator has nothing to gain from permitting us to test our
open source GSM/GPRS implementations,

I think there is little chance that this will become a reality.

If anyone has really good contacts to the radio network planning team
of a German mobile operator and wants to prove me wrong: Feel free to
contact me by e-mail.

Thanks to everyone involved with the GSM team at the CCC events,
particularly Holger Freyther, Daniel Willmann, Stefan Schmidt, Jan
Luebbe, Peter Stuge, Sylvain Munaut, Kevin Redon, Andreas Eversberg,
Ulli (and everyone else whom I may have forgot, my apologies). It's
been a pleasure!

Thanks also to our friends at the POC (Phone Operation Center) who
have provided interfacing to the DECT, ISDN, analog and VoIP network
at the events. Thanks to roh for helping with our special patch
requests. Thanks also to those entities and people who borrowed
equipment (like BTSs) in the pre-sysmocom years.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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