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Ask HN: How to get started with 5G as a software developer
5 points by the_only_law 44 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments
I’ve always been interested in broadband networks, mobile telephony, WAN networks, etc. and I’m playing around a good bit with some older obsolete technologies (as the equipment is at least remotely affordable) writing software stacks, putting together networks, etc.

It seems that all new work in that domain in in next generation mobile networks, primarily 5G and perhaps a little bit of 6G.

How as a developer can I start getting involved in this. I know there are some open source platforms, but I’m curious of what type of hardware I need. I have some SDR’s that would cover maybe a small bit of the lower end of the spectrum, but I imagine much higher and I’m looking at unaffordable professional radios. Any good books recommendations, etc.

You can become an amateur radio operator. Many of the concepts and terms would be applicable to 5G.

I guess my question to you would be, what are you developing that would need to be 5G specifically? It seems that's more of a hardware or established protocol level than typical developer stuff. I mean, if the layers are done right, it should basically be network/hardware agnostic.

If you are just interested in the software side of things, you don't need any hardware. You can just create a "transmitter" in Matlab that takes in your data, does the signal processing to make the blob you would transmit over RF, and then saves it in a .wav file. Then you could write the "receiver" in Matlab that reverses what you did in the transmitter. This would allow you to get started without buying hardware.

Also, you don't necessarily need to use Matlab. Matlab is just what I used when I did this sort of thing in a lab in college.

Plenty of options with varying levels of cost and/or complexity. For example, you could try Matlab’s HDL coder/Sysgen and an FPGA eval platform with eval board transceiver. National Instruments also has a good platform to start with using Labview and the Ettus USRP devices. OpenAirInterface has been developed to work with the USRP devices and has a fairly active community led from Eurecom.

> and an FPGA eval platform with eval board transceiver

Know of any vendors providing these offhand? The Ettus radios are very cool, but sadly a bit out of my price range.

You could try the Xilinx ZC706 with an ADI9361 based FMCOMMS board. The OpenWIFI team has a few configurations listed on their readme that are popular: https://github.com/open-sdr/openwifi. I think these setups will still cost >$1000USD and require considerable effort to get going - I don’t know of a <$1000 SDR setup for 5G development that would be easy to setup and get going with. Curious if anyone knows of one.

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