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Buiding a Cellular Network at Burning Man

There is literally nowhere else on earth where you can run an experimental mobile phone network with a potential 50,000 users and get away with it. Nowhere else can you learn so much in as short a timeframe about people’s relationship with their mobile phones or what makes a mobile network tick.
Since 2006, the folks behind OpenBTS have been running the Papa Legba camp at Burning Man, providing fully licensed independent (free) cellular service in the most unlikely of places.
Papa Legba member and founder of Geeks Without Bounds, Johnny Diggz, will go through the hardware and software tools we deployed in 2013, along with an overview of future plans for the network in 2014.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What is Burning Man? Where is it, when is it? What is it all about?
  2. What are the basics of how the GSM cellular network works?
  3. How do you deploy an independent cellular network vs. commercially available networks?
  4. What equipment and software is used to make free phone calls and text messages at Burning Man?
  5. Why would anyone want to make a cellular network at Burning Man?



Johnny Diggz, Founder, Geeks Without Bounds

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