Inside Magma: A take a look at the workforce behind the software program

Facebook Connectivity’s mission is to bring more people online to faster internet. Together with partners around the world, we develop programs and technologies that increase the availability, affordability and awareness of high-quality Internet access. In this blog, we take a closer look at Magma, an open source software platform that enables operators and Internet service providers to deploy cellular networks in hard-to-reach areas.

To tell the story of Magma, we reached out to two members of the Facebook Magma team, Brian Barritt (Software Engineering Manager) and Ulas Kozat (Software Engineer). As experts in the field, they provide more details about Magma, its use cases, as well as its growing community of scientists, developers, and industrial partners.

About magma

Every cellular network needs a powerful packet core in the middle of its network. However, the market has made it difficult for communications providers to purchase, deploy, and maintain the latest technology at a reasonable cost. According to Kozat, Magma is an open source solution with an extended package core that offers communication service providers flexibility, openness and lower costs. Ultimately, this means that people can experience better connectivity, be it via 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi or other wireless access technologies.

Kozat names the following possible use cases for magma:

  • Providing connectivity solutions to smaller populations (e.g., remote sites, businesses, and factories) who need a more localized, self-managed network
  • Providing a solution for regional or national operators to fill gaps in coverage or capacity in both rural and urban areas
  • Providing low latency, high bandwidth access to edge clouds (such as AR / VR applications) to augment the next generation of applications and services

The work of Facebook Connectivity is very collaborative by nature and spanning multiple subject areas, and Magma is no exception. “Facebook Connectivity’s open source magma in 2019, and we’re still making an important contribution to the code base,” says Kozat. “Our partner engineers, marketing team and management team are building partnerships with vendors, systems integrators, scientists and service providers to accelerate market adoption and bring millions of real users online with Magma.”

Partnerships, collaborations and community

The Magma team actively encourages researchers to join its advanced branch of research as part of the Magma Academic Partnership Program launched in 2020. “The program aims to encourage strong participation from academic researchers to improve edge connectivity through open wireless research test beds and platforms. The program also supports research projects that explore more advanced use cases more directly using the Magma platform, ”says Kozat.

In keeping with this vision, Magma and other Facebook Connectivity employees were part of the organizing committee for the academic program and speakers at the first OpenWireless workshop organized by ACM Mobisys in June 2020.

The Magma team fosters collaboration and community between industry and academic partners through events such as the Magma Developers Conference, which took place on February 3, 2021 this year. The annual event brings developers, communications service providers, field experts, scientists and technology executives together to discuss opportunities, challenges and new ways to improve and expand global connectivity. “The main theme of this year’s event reflects the mission of Facebook Connectivity and underscores Magma’s role in connecting people to a faster internet,” says Barritt.

This year’s conference featured three lectures led by academic staff: Sylvia Ratnasamy (University of California, Berkeley), Kurtis Heimerl (University of Washington) and Rahman Doost-Mohammady (Rice University). For those interested in learning more about the event, all sessions will take place on the Open Infra Foundation’s YouTube channel.

Magma expands its developer community through an open source collaboration with the Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation provides Magma with a neutral governance framework and is supported by other open source communities, including the Open Infrastructure Foundation and the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance. Many other partner companies of various sizes have also joined the project.

“The sustainability of open source projects depends on a healthy ecosystem. There are many partners for Magma who actively contribute to the code base and actively provide Magma. Your business success is linked to the success of Magma, ”says Kozat. For more information on collaboration, see the Linux Foundation blog.

Next Steps

For 2021, the Magma team will continue to highlight the importance of collaboration. “Our efforts to engage the research community in the magma ecosystem will continue at full speed in 2021,” says Kozat. “New funding opportunities and support mechanisms for universities are being offered to expand the scope further than the short-term needs of the industry require.”

Visit Magma’s GitHub page to delve into the Magma developer community. Find information about Slack channels and mailing lists here. For marketing and industry news and announcements, visit the Magma website and subscribe for updates. For general updates from the Facebook research community, please visit our Facebook page.

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