Scaling Community Cellular Networks with CommunityCellularManager


Shaddi Hasan, UC Berkeley; Mary Claire Barela, University of the Philippines Diliman; Matthew Johnson, University of Washington; Eric Brewer, UC Berkeley; Kurtis Heimerl, University of Washington
Community Award Winner!


Hundreds of millions of people still live beyond the coverage of basic mobile connectivity, primarily in rural areas with low population density. Mobile-network operators (MNOs) traditionally struggle to justify expansion into these rural areas due to the high infrastructure costs necessary to provide service. Community cellular networks, networks built "by and for" the people they serve, represent an alternative model that, to an extent, bypasses these business case limitations and enables sustainable rural coverage. Yet despite aligned economic incentives, real deployments of community cellular networks still face significant regulatory, commercial and technical challenges.

In this paper, we present CommunityCellularManager (CCM), a system for operating community cellular networks at scale. CCM enables multiple community networks to operate under the control of a single, multi-tenant controller and in partnership with a traditional MNO. CCM preserves flexibility for each community network to operate independently, while allowing the mobile network operator to safely make critical resources such as spectrum and phone numbers available to these networks. We evaluate CCM through a multi-year, large-scale community cellular network deployment in the Philippines in partnership with a traditional MNO, providing basic communication services to over 2,000 people in 15 communities without requiring changes to the existing regulatory framework, and using existing handsets. We demonstrate that CCM can support independent community networks with unique service offerings and operating models while providing a basic level of MNO-defined service. To our knowledge, this represents the largest deployment of community cellular networks to date.

NSDI '19 Open Access Sponsored by NetApp

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@inproceedings {227627,
author = {Shaddi Hasan and Mary Claire Barela and Matthew Johnson and Eric Brewer and Kurtis Heimerl},
title = {Scaling Community Cellular Networks with {CommunityCellularManager}},
booktitle = {16th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 19)},
year = {2019},
isbn = {978-1-931971-49-2},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {735--750},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = feb

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