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FreedomFi launches 5G gateway based on open source software

21 Oct 2020

A 5G specialist firm called FreedomFi has plans to make 5G networks a little more open source, as it this week launches the first gateway based on open source software.

FreedomFi explains that cellular LTE networks offer some benefits over WiFi, but they often rely on proprietary hardware from equipment manufacturers. Further, the company cites figures that predict  a 40% growth rate in the 5G small cell market over the next five to seven years.

FreedomFi cofounder and CTO Joey Padden says that the last thing enterprises should want to do is tie a cellular network to a single radio vendor, which is another reason why the company created its vendor-agnostic gateway.

FreedomFi created an x86 network appliance that enables users to build a private LTE or 5G network, through the use of small cell radios and open source software.

“The biggest benefit of 5G is not faster speed, but efficiencies unlocked through software-centric architecture. Coupled with open source and cloud-native design principles, software-driven 5G networks will have an order-of-magnitude lower OPEX,” says FreedomFi cofounder and CEO Boris Renski.

“Ultimately, it is not about streaming videos faster and doing VR in select hotspots, but about connecting the next billion people in emerging geographies or matching Private 5G economics to that of WiFi for the enterprise use cases.”

The company has also taken open source private cellular and turned it into a kind open source sponsorship project, in which proceeds will be reinvested towards building open source software code as part of the Magma project.

The Magma project is an open source cellular network core solution, originally created by Facebook. 

According to Facebook, Magma is specifically designed for ‘building modern, efficient mobile networks’. The company open sourced the project in February 2019 with the aim of simplifying mobile network deployment and building connectivity infrastructure.

“Magma is not intended to replace existing evolved packet core (EPC) deployments for large networks. Rather, it extends existing network topologies to the edge of rural deployments, private LTE networks or wireless enterprise deployments.”

“Magma enables new kinds of network archetypes where there is a need for fast, incremental upgrade cycles and continuous integration of software components, all while allowing authentication to and integration with a classic LTE EPC.”

The FreedomFi Gateway is now available in public beta. The company is also demonstrating an end-to-end private cellular network deployment during its keynote at the Open Infrastructure Summit this week.