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EE goes Open Source with Network in a Box solution

  • UK telco partners with Canonical and Lime Micro
  • Software defined radio can be programmed for any wireless standard
  • Available to developers via a crowd-funding campaign

UK telco EE has announced that it is partnering with Lime Micro and Canonical, two of the UK’s leading open source technology companies, to launch a fully programmable network capability with the ability to change the way future mobile networks are built. The solution is built on Lime’s ‘network in a box’ solution, which developers can configure by software to provide any wireless service, including 4G and WiFi. The configuration software, available through the Snappy Ubuntu Core stores, should allow developers to create new applications and services for a mobile network.

EE will deploy the new solutions created by this partnership as part of its work with the UK’s Telecom Infrastructure Project, with the first project committed to connect an area of the Scottish Highlands and Islands later this year. The telco is working with Lime to provide the programmable development kit to the University of Highlands and Islands, in order to create a bespoke solution for the region.

“The technology could be particularly relevant to our work in remote and rural health and digital innovation,” said Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands. “As a regional university, we aim to have a transformational impact on the Highlands and Islands so we welcome any initiatives which have the potential to benefit our area.”

The Lime Micro programmable network in a box, LimeSDR, will be available to developers initially through a crowd-funded campaign launching later this month. The solution is a low cost, app-enabled software defined radio (SDR) basestation that can be programmed to support any type of wireless standard.

“We’re committed to making low cost open source hardware that is easy to access and program, to achieve the goal of universal wireless connectivity,” said Ebrahim Bushehri, CEO of Lime Micro. “We are delighted to be working with EE to bring our RAN solution to remote areas of the UK, and to start on a journey that will change how mobile networks are built, and who drives the innovation in this industry.”

“Apps and smartphones revolutionised the mobile experience and this could have the same impact on the network – we’re allowing anyone to build an app that can introduce a new service or a new capability to a mobile network,” said Mansoor Hanif, Director of Radio Networks at EE. “That could be to connect a rural area of the UK for the first time, or to be part of designing how 5G works. This type of innovation is vital to evolving wireless networks, and we’re making sure that the UK is at the forefront of that.”

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