Vodafone wants to sell a Raspberry Pi-based 5G portable mobile network

The prototype Votafone 5G portable router

European wireless provider Vodafone has revealed a prototype for a portable 5G network. Such a device could be used to help extend the carrier's main 5G network, or it could be used as a private mobile network for businesses.

In Vodafone's press release, the basis for this portable 5G network is the cheap and small Raspberry Pi 4 PC. It's been combined with a small 5G software-defined radio (SDR) from a company called Lime Microsystems. Vodafone stated:

The resulting system can then be used either as part of a dedicated private network, an extension of a larger MPN or connected to Vodafone’s public network like any other base station. The board design is fully compliant to Open Radio Access Network (RAN) standards, which means it can be used with any computing machine capable of running Open RAN compatible software.

The small size of this 5G base station could allow owners to take it with them and use it at a coffee shop, an airport lobby, a park, or any public space in Vodafone's carrier territory. The 5G network would be more secure than using a public Wi-Fi connection.

Vodafone is looking for "interested vendors" to check out its prototype and see if it can mass produce it for the general public. Since this is a prototype, there's no word on when it might become available, nor what it will cost. The device will be demonstrated at Vodafone's booth next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

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