In 1998 EURECOM launched an experimental research activity for the development of next-generation wireless communications systems. This marked the birth of the convergence of wireless systems with the Internet. EURECOM quickly identified the need of a full-scale environment to test ideas for improvement of the components of a complete system. In this context the idea of federating efforts around the many required software components appeared necessary.
This was reflected through many national and European collaborative projects mixing stakeholders from the academic world and those of the industrial world. In order to perpetuate software development and experimental expertise, EURECOM took the decision to work within the framework of free software. These early contributions were assembled in a software package called ‘wireless3G4free’ which, as the name suggests, was designed to implement and improve networks of third generation wireless and beyond.
In 2009, the developed software package was recast in a broader perspective by including the support for 4G. Partners in collaborative projects who embraced software openness, the flexibility of the implementation and its use for the experimental deployments, were now seeking a greater rapprochement with international standards. To meet these requirements EURECOM created the “OpenAirInterfaceTM” environment that helps keep the features of flexibility and openness of the software while ensuring compliance with the standards.
In 2014, the OpenAirInterfaceTM software implementations were used to demonstrate interoperability with commercial wireless system components (either mobile devices or mobile core networks).
In parallel with these efforts, the emergence of industrial solutions based on free software (such as Android, Openstack, etc.) shows the benefit of OpenAirInterfaceTM in supporting an expanding community of actors.
Noting that the evolution of the standards of wireless systems is in continual acceleration and that the communities of stakeholders is requesting open and flexible solutions, EURECOM wished that “OpenAirInterfaceTM” be placed under the responsibility of an independent non-profit organization so that its future development is irrevocably conducted in a neutrally open and transparent manner and that its access is guaranteed to all.
To do this, EURECOM, as founder, decided to create an endowment fund (“Fonds de dotation”)named «OpenAirInterface» and transfer free of charge all developments under an open-source software license.
Specifically, EURECOM donated the software implementation of the algorithmic implementation of 4G radio modems and protocol stacks required to support IP based communications on a radio and a set of software components allowing the creation of a mobile core network.
In addition, EURECOM currently provides the initial management environment of these software components, namely the software and documentation versioning servers, web sites and OpenAirInterfaceTM twiki etc.