Facebook’s open mobile packet core project to reside at Linux Foundation

Historically, mobile packet cores have been very expensive and out of reach to anyone aside from major network operators. Magma extends the concept of open-source software licensing to the mobile core network.  (Getty Images)

The open source project Magma, which has developed mobile core network software, is coming under the management of the Linux Foundation.

Magma, which was open sourced by Facebook in 2019, will now be managed under a neutral governance framework at the Linux Foundation.

The Magma mobile packet core software can be used to set up private wireless networks, for carrier Wi-Fi, for mobile broadband or even for fixed wireless access (FWA) deployments.

The software is access-agnostic, making it suitable for mobile carriers, cable operators, telcos or startups such as community internet providers.

A number of prominent groups will join Magma under the Linux Foundation, including Arm, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, FreedomFi, Qualcomm, the Institute of Wireless Internet of Things at Northeastern University, the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance and the Open Infrastructure Foundation.

In addition to starting Magma, Facebook was also the founder of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). And a number of Magma community members are also collaborating with TIP’s Open Core Network project group to define, build, test and deploy core network products.

“Bringing Magma to the Linux Foundation is a huge milestone as the Magma ecosystem of developers continues to grow,” said Dan Rabinovitsj, vice president for Facebook Connectivity, in a statement.

Boris Renski, founder of the private wireless network startup FreedomFi, said that currently the Magma ecosystem of developers counts about 500 people, but at varying degrees of involvement. “Of these 500, there’s probably a core team of 40 that are dedicated to writing the code,” said Renski. “Half of those 40 come from Facebook Connectivity.”

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With Facebook playing an integral role in Magma, why didn’t it house the project under TIP?

Renski said the Linux Foundation has the most developed structures in place to provide administrative and legal non-profit support for open source software projects, whereas TIP is mainly focused on development of requirements and standards for the telecom industry.

Magma is a little different than the typical Linux Foundation project where the governing board would be comprised of vendors that use or sell the open source software or customers that have deployed it. In Magma’s case, some of the board seats are assigned to other open source groups, such as the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance and the Open Infrastructure Foundation (which was formerly called the OpenStack Foundation).

Mark Collier, chief operating officer at the Open Infrastructure Foundation (OIF), said that Facebook has recently joined OIF as a platinum member.

OIF is already very familiar to most of the world’s telcos. “Almost every mobile provider in the world is running OpenStack, it just didn’t happen to be the packet core piece,” said Collier.

Jonathan Bryce, executive director of OIF, said that historically, mobile packet cores have been very expensive and out of reach to anyone aside from major network operators. Magma extends the concept of open-source software licensing to the mobile core network.