Network World's Julie Bort has the story about how open source software OpenBTS is used to offer free cell phone service to the 50,000+ people attending Burning Man this year in Nevada.
"This is the third year its founders have decided to trial-by-fire the system by offering free cell phone service to the 50,000-ish attendees at Burning Man, which begins today in Black Rock City, Nevada," Bort reported yesterday.
The system is OpenBTS running on Linux, and it's using a software-defined radio such as Universal Software Radio Peripheral to present a GSM interface to any GSM cell phone with no modification to the phone necessary.
The folks who setup the Burning Man cell phone network are using Asterisk VoIP software as the PBX to connect calls, but Bort said other soft switches can be used.
But aside from providing cell phone service to Burning Man attendees, this type of open source cell phone service can be used in other remote or even impoverished parts of the world to connect them using open source technology.