World’s largest open source RF network deployed for world leading festival

Event Connection teams with Fairwaves and Lime Micro to add capacity and reliability for million-person event.

Open source RF base station technology has been successfully deployed by Event Connection and Fairwaves to ramp up the communication networks during one of the world’s largest annual music festivals.

This citywide network covered almost 60 square kilometres and is the world’s largest deployment of an open source GSM network and highlights the reliability and potential of open source RF technology.

The four-day Walk of the World festival sees over 1-million people descend each July on the ancient Dutch city of Nijmegen. The influx of people regularly overloads the city’s commercial networks and this limits emergency communications and event organisation.

By using an open source network based on field programmable RF technology, the event support firm Event Connection were able to deploy a citywide network using unlicensed GSM spectra. This ensured emergency services, security staff and event teams had access to GSM networks even when commercial networks overstretched to cope with the traffic.

To add the capacity, Event Connection and Fairwaves deployed a small scale GSM network that connected with traditional phone networks via VoIP. The network was based on Fairwaves’ UmSITE base station, which runs Osmocom open-source software and UmTRX open-source hardware.

To supply the frequency band flexibility required for such a deployment, the network also uses field programmable RF transceivers from Lime Microsystems as part of the UmTRX hardware.

Fairwave’s CEO Alexander Chemeris said: “The festival needed 100 per cent service availability and 100 per cent reliability, especially for emergency services and event staff. The sudden influx of people meant this couldn’t be achieved using commercial operators. Preconfiguring the system to meet Stringent regulations and the need for real-time adaption demanded a flexible approach.”

Event Connection’s founder, Barney Broomer said, “For a long time we searched for the right private GSM solution that addressed our specific needs in the outdoors. Over the last two years we tested almost every system available in the private GSM market, but none of them made it even one day. We discovered that our needs required an affordable, tailor-made solution. Fairwaves provided us with a solution that works perfectly in our wireless grid.”

Lime CEO, Ebrahim Bushehri said: “RF is beginning to go through an open source revolution and deployments. This large scale, mass user network highlights the potential and reliability of the technology. I see this as a first step in democratizing the network infrastructure for greater availability around the world at much lower cost than the existing solutions”.

Following the successful deployment of the network, the companies are due to launch a ruggedized version of the system for the event and security markets, which will launch in Q4 2013.