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22 February 2010, 16:27

Free GSM stack in development

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Harald Welte, kernel hacker and operator of, has released the first code from the OsmocomBB project which is developing a complete, free and open source software GSM stack.

The initial code presented by the project has "full control over the baseband hardware" and is able to scan GSM bands for cells. As yet it is not capable of making calls. Welte says "We are currently in Rx (receive) only mode and have no Layer2 or Layer3 implementation", adding that he is confident that the difficult part, driving the hardware and implementing "minimal Layer1", is done and he expects to have the ability to make "actual phone calls during the months to come".

Welte started OsmocomBB to free the world of proprietary baseband firmware implemented in billions of phones over the 19 years since GSM was deployed. He doesn't want phones to be "a black box connected 24/7 to a public network" and feels it should be possible to see what information phones are revealing about their users. The project builds upon the work done creating OpenBSC, an open source implementation of the network side protocol of GSM.

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