01/04/2013

Range Networks may offer commercial GSM services

Range Networks are mostly known for developing the open source GSM networking stack based on the OpenBTS platform (initially a GNU product as a software defined radio), it has famously been known for creating a working GSM (DCS1800) network at Burning Man.

Though currently supporting GSM (2G) and 2.5G networks, Range Networks are working on both 3G WCDMA and LTE networks.

Systems have been deployed in a research station Antarctica and a cattle ranching cooperative in Patagonia as well as a couple of hundred other rural environments.

The company has been self funded by the owners, but attracted funding in December 2010 and more recently a series A round which should help Range commercialise their systems and offer them to Tier 1 type operators for rural use. A core GSM network can be built for less than $100,000 while a base-station costs between $30,000 - $40,000 (both are around 1/3 the cost of current commercial offerings). The development will include SS7 connectivity and IMS functionality to connect to existing networks, though GSM endpoints appear as SIP endpoints.

Range are also competing with the advantage that all their systems are developed in the US (while competitors like ZTE are Chinese) which might appease the US Government who don't want US operators to rely on Chinese equipment which may have security issues and back-doors available to the Chinese Government.