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How PA shrunk a 30 foot mobile phone base-station into a three-inch computer  

“Just imagine the other possibilities that other such low cost technologies could inspire across other sectors.”


Frazer Bennett, PA technology expert  




20 December 2012 


PA Consulting Group’s wireless experts have used a Raspberry Pi, a $30 computer the size of a credit card, to run a mobile phone base-station that operates a private mobile-phone network.

One of the technology highlights of 2012 has been the Raspberry Pi platform, a Linux-based computer, targeted at educating the next generation of software and hardware engineers in computer programming. PA’s team of wireless experts took the Raspberry Pi and implemented it on the Global System for Communication (GSM) mobile standard, which is used by all mobile phones in Europe. As a result, PA managed to route voice and SMS traffic through it by creating a private mobile network.

How did PA shrink the 30 foot base-station into a three-inch Raspberry Pi?

PA hooked up the Raspberry Pi to a radio interface and, using Open Source software, implemented the functionality of a mobile base-station. Along with two mobile phones with sim cards, PA created all the functionality to make the phones talk to each other.  PA set up their Raspberry Pi in a screened-room facility to ensure no laws on frequency spectrum were broken

PA’s Frazer Bennett, a technology expert, says: “We've shrunk a 30 foot base station into a three-inch Raspberry Pi and created our own mobile phone network. This proves what can be achieved through low-cost off the shelf-systems. Just imagine the other possibilities that other such low cost technologies could inspire across other sectors and industries.”  

In addition, PA has teamed up with Raspberry Pi to launch a competition that challenged schoolchildren, students and programmers to use a Raspberry Pi to make the world a better place. The results will be announced in the spring. 

Watch a video of how the Raspberry Pi was used as a base-station here.

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