Tuesday, May 6, 2014

YateBTS 3.0 is Here!

YateBTS 3.0 is here.  We (Legba and SS7Ware) are a little off of our original one-release-per-month schedule, but not by much.

The two big new features in YateBTS 3.0 are

The cooperation with Nuand has been very rewarding; the BladeRF offers a very affordable platform for experimenters and students to work with YateBTS. The OpenVoLTE support, however, represents a fundamental shift in the capabilities of open source mobile networks.

OpenVoLTE was designed to provide VoLTE service in a IMS 4G core network, but it also can act as an MSC/VLR for the 2G YateBTS. OpenVoLTE can talk SS7 to a legacy HLR or talk DIAMETER to a new-generation HSS. This means that OpenVoLTE allows us to integrate YateBTS directly into existing SS7 infrastructure, something that has been a significant roadblock for similar RAN implementations. This capability is not hypothetical; it has been demonstrated using the same  HLR that is used by SS7Ware's MVNO customers in production networks. And since OpenVoLTE is an IMS system anyway, it will allows operators to build mixed 2G/4G networks using a combination of YateBTS and standard eNodeBs, what we call a unified core network.

The short of it is that with OpenVoLTE, YateBTS is compatible with nearly all existing and foreseeable mobile operator core networks.  For me, this represents a huge milestone for what started as OpenBTS, a possibility that has existed for a long time but has only now been realized. More importantly, it gives operators the chance to lower costs by using 2G in those places where it is an appropriate choice, even after the shift to IMS core networks. I hope to address the importance of that  capability in a future post. Until then, get a Lab Kit and have fun playing with YateBTS 3.0.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

YateBTS 2.0

By the time you read this, Null Team and Legba will have released YateBTS 2.0. The big new features are authentication and USSD, both of which are important stepping stones for roaming support, and a new web-based interface for network-in-a-box configuration. (Note that USSD support is in the commercial release only.)

When YateBTS was initially released, just last month, several people commented that the roadmap was very "aggressive", by which I think they really meant "unrealistic".  Getting the 2.0 release out on schedule, along with continuous improvements to the documentation, will convince people that the companies are serious about developing and supporting this product.  The speed with which Null are adding new higher-layer features also demonstrates the power of Yate's Javascript interpreter to simplify the coding of the GSM control layers.

Meanwhile at Legba, we are working on other aspects of YateBTS, like EDGE, for upcoming releases.  More on that soon.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Salut, YateBTS!

Today, we are proud to announce the release of YateBTS 1.0, the result of a collaboration between my new company, Legba, Inc, and the good people at Null Team SRL, the home of Yate.

YateBTS is basically the OpenBTS L1 PHY, L2 link layer and L3 radio resource manager, with all other functions implemented in Yate.  This offers some huge advantages over the original OpenBTS SIP interface, including dramatically improved stability, direct support for the all of the protocols already supported by Yate (XMPP/Jabber/Jingle, H.323, MGCP, IAX, ISDN, and others) and lots of other Yate features, like SNMP.  Most notably, though, when YateBTS is used with the commercial version of Yate, it gets the benefit of Yate’s deployed and certified SS7-MAP interfaces, for ready integration into existing mobile infrastructure, including roaming support.

Architecturally, YateBTS is built from a “decapitated” version of the OpenBTS public release, called “MBTS", interfaced to Yate over a socket.  Through this socket, the Yate messaging engine sees abstract “connections” that represent the dedicated radio channels to the mobile stations.  This approach allows Yate and the MBTS component to be licensed independently.  So MBTS inherits the OpenBTS AGPLv3 license and Yate is distributed under either GPLv2 or a commercial binary license, depending on the version.

In the first public release, YateBTS supports GSM-FR calls, SMS and GPRS.  This is a smaller feature set than OpenBTS, but since Yate now allows the control layer to be coded in Javascript, we expect new features to develop very quickly.  (Really; once we decided to build YateBTS it only took a few weeks to get this far.)

I hope everyone has fun with this new toy.

That said, YateBTS is not the main thing we are working on.  More on that later. ;)

Hello from Romania!

I have set up a new blog under my own name. I left Range Networks back in September and "OpenBTS" is their trademark, so I won't be using that label for my work anymore.  It's just as well; I needed the change.

After taking a little time off, I set up a new company and recruited a new development team in Bucharest.  We have been working closely with Null Team, the company behind Yate, on some new projects.  I have been very quite about all of this until now, but soon we will starting releasing things and talking publicly.

Until then, for your entertainment, I present a chart to help you understand some important Romanian words that probably don't appear in your RO-EN dictionary:

  • BricoStore, Hornbacher, Baumax, OBI : Home Depot, Lowe's
  • Media Galaxy : Best Buy
  • RDS, UPC : Comcast
  • Enel : PG&E, ConEd
  • Ursus : Budwiser
  • Ciuc : Papbst
  • CaltoboÈ™ : Boudin
  • Carrefour, Billa : Safeway, Kroger
  • Real : Wal-Mart
  • IKEA : IKEA 
  • Dacia : Toyota
Other observations on living in Bucharest:
  • All the big US fast food brands are here, but the restaurants are nicer.  For example, Romanian Pizza Huts have table service and full bars.
  • Always carry cash.  Get a real (smart card) debit card from a local bank.
  • The cost of rent is about 1/3 what it is in San Francisco.
  • The cost of eating out is about 1/3 what it is in San Francisco, unless the menus are all in English, in which case it will be about the same.
  • The standard taxi rate is 1.39 RON/km, don't pay a cabbie less than 10 RON (about US$3), no matter how short the trip. And if you say "thank-you" ("mulÈ›umesc") before you get your change, that is the same as saying "keep the change".
  • Bucharest drivers don't look through intersections and will park anywhere.
  • 1 RON is the same as 1 leu and the plural for leu is lei.  To make it a little more confusing, a lot of Romanians will call 100 lei a "million" because there was a 10000:1 currency revaluation a few years ago.
That's it for now.  More interesting news coming soon, though.