I've mentioned some of my various retronetworking projects in some past blog posts. One of those projects is Osmocom Community TDM over IP (OCTOI). During the past 5 or so months, we have been using a number of GPS-synchronized open source icE1usb interconnected by a new, efficient but strill transparent TDMoIP protocol in order to run a distributed TDM/PDH network. This network is currently only used to provide ISDN services to retronetworking enthusiasts, but other uses like frame relay have also been validated.
So far, the central hub of this OCTOI network has been operating in the basement of my home, behind a consumer-grade DOCSIS cable modem connection. Given that TDMoIP is relatively sensitive to packet loss, this has been sub-optimal.
Luckily some of my old friends at noris.net have agreed to host a new OCTOI hub free of charge in one of their ultra-reliable co-location data centres. I'm already hosting some other machines there for 20+ years, and noris.net is a good fit given that they were - in their early days as an ISP - the driving force in the early 90s behind one of the Linux kernel ISDN stracks called u-isdn. So after many decades, ISDN returns to them in a very different way.
Side note: In case you're curious, a reconstructed partial release history of the u-isdn code can be found on gitea.osmocom.org
But I digress. So today, there was the installation of this new OCTOI hub setup. It has been prepared for several weeks in advance, and the hub contains two circuit boards designed entirely only for this use case. The most difficult challenge was the fact that this data centre has no existing GPS RF distribution, and the roof is ~ 100m of CAT5 cable (no fiber!) away from the roof. So we faced the challenge of passing the 1PPS (1 pulse per second) signal reliably through several steps of lightning/over-voltage protection into the icE1usb whose internal GPS-DO serves as a grandmaster clock for the TDM network.
The equipment deployed in this installation currently contains:
a rather beefy Supermicro 2U server with EPYC 7113P CPU and 4x PCIe, two of which are populated with Digium TE820 cards resulting in a total of 16 E1 ports
an icE1usb with RS422 interface board connected via 100m RS422 to an Ericsson GPS03 receiver. There's two layers of of over-voltage protection on the RS422 (each with gas discharge tubes and TVS) and two stages of over-voltage protection in the coaxial cable between antenna and GPS receiver.
a Livingston Portmaster3 RAS server
a Cisco AS5400 RAS server
Now that the physical deployment has been made, the next steps will be to migrate all the TDMoIP links from the existing user base over to the new hub. We hope the reliability and performance will be much better than behind DOCSIS.
In any case, this new setup for sure has a lot of capacity to connect many more more users to this network. At this point we can still only offer E1 PRI interfaces. I expect that at some point during the coming winter the project for remote TDMoIP BRI (S/T, S0-Bus) connectivity will become available.
I'd like to thank anyone helping this effort, specifically * Sylvain "tnt" Munaut for his work on the RS422 interface board (+ gateware/firmware) * noris.net for sponsoring the co-location * sysmocom for sponsoring the EPYC server hardware