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Large population communications lab: Burning Man

“There is literally nowhere else on earth where you can run an experimental mobile phone network with a potential 30,000 users and get away with it. Nowhere else can you learn so much in as short a timeframe about people’s relationship with their mobile phones or what makes a mobile network tick. “

Tim Panton describes What We Learned Running A Mobile Network At Burning Man.

The location is well out of normal cell phone service range. The event has tens of thousands of people who depend upon modern interactive communications technologies. That makes for a unique situation for testing concepts.

“This year’s lesson is about customisation, we used our position inside the network at Burning Man to change the user’s experience of the phone service, we created web-style metrics to see what worked and what doesn’t. You simply can’t do that stuff if you aren’t right in the centre of the network, being on the edges doesn’t cut it. We have already been busy applying that knowledge to the Tropo APIs we offer our customers and partners in the near future. “

Sometimes technical progress comes from strange places …

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