5G is made up of a hardware part, a normative part – oh yes there are so many 5G standards – and a software part. Indeed, without open source technologies, 5G would not have seen the light of day. Today, the software and hardware aspects of 5G are getting closer than ever thanks to the cell nucleus, and the open source Magma network software stack.
Magma was developed by Facebook to help telecom operators deploy mobile networks quickly and easily. The project, which Facebook started in 2019, achieves this by providing a core of distributed mobile packets focused on software and tools to automate network management. This containerized network feature integrates with the existing background of a mobile network and makes it easy to launch new services at the edge of the network.
The Magma brick integrates with existing 4G networks and new 5G networks. Several members of the Magma community also collaborate within the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open Core Network group. The plan is to define, build, test and deploy core network products that integrate Magma with disaggregated hardware and software solutions like TIP Open Core.
The Linux of 5G?
The Linux Foundation will help oversee this next step. Magma will be managed in a neutral framework within the Linux Foundation. Arm, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, FreedomFi, Qualcomm, the Institute of Wireless Internet of Things at Northeastern University, the OpenAirInterface (OAI) Software Alliance, and the Open Infrastructure Foundation (OIF) are stakeholders in the project.
You may be wondering, since Magma is already working with the OIF, which is somewhat of a rival to the Linux Foundation, why Magma will be working with both organizations? Arpit Joshipura, Managing Director of the Linux Foundation for Networks, Edge and IoT, explains: “Magma has received great support from several ecosystem players and foundations, including OIF, the ‘OAI, etc. What we are announcing today is the next evolution of the project, where the actual hosting of the project is set up under the Linux Foundation with neutral governance that has been accepted by the community for a long time. The OIF, OAI and LF will work with their communities of software developers to contribute to the core Magma project ”.
Even if you are already involved in the development and deployment of 5G, you may not know much about Magma. Arpit Joshipura explains: “Magama provides application functions as the core of a mobile network which are complementary to telecommunications software and to existing free software such as Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) or Akraino”.
What features for Magma?
Magma will provide these features:
- enable operators to expand their capacity and reach using LTE (4G), 5G, Wi-Fi and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS);
- enable operators to offer cellular services without provider locking, thanks to a modern and open source core network;
- enable operators to manage their networks more efficiently through more automation, less downtime, better predictability and more flexibility to add new services and applications;
- allow federation between existing mobile network operators (MNO – Mobile Network Operator, ie telephone operators such as Bouygues Telecom, Orange, SFR and Free mobile) and new infrastructure providers to increase the infrastructure of mobile networks;
- Support open source 5G technology and incubate future wireless network use cases such as Private 5G, Integrated Access Backhaul (IAB), Augmented Networks and Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN).
Boris Renski, co-founder and CEO of FreedomFi, which uses Magma to help build low-cost, long-range, reliable and secure 4G LTE and private 5G networks, loves the project. “We have been contributing to Magma upstream and doing deployments for our customers for over a year now and have built over 20 private 4G networks using Magma. “
“Magma is one of the most exciting projects I have seen in years”
Boris Renski sees “Magma rapidly transforming into the Linux of telecommunications network cores”. Additionally, “with industry giants like Arm and Qualcomm joining the effort and helping to ensure Magma’s compatibility with their platforms, we hope other radio access network providers (RANs – Radio Access Network) and free software will join the effort to help further accelerate adoption ”.
Qualcomm thinks the same. Douglas Knisely, Engineer and Director of Qualcomm, indicates that “Qualcomm supports the evolution of Magma’s core network efforts towards a larger coalition among the main founding and contributing projects. This effort builds on the collaborative activities and code contributions of the OAI in the Magma project and promotes the harmonization of a common reference architecture of the 5G core network, internal structure, APIs and interfaces. for all emerging 5G open source industry projects ”.
It’s not just the suppliers who see the potential of Magma. “Magma is one of the most exciting projects I have seen in years. In our world, connectivity is directly linked to progress, and Magma’s mission to improve network access for the under-connected is inspiring and meaningful, ”says Jonathan Bryce, Executive Director of OIF.
Want to get involved? You can join Magma on her Github. The future of 5G awaits you.