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Research Brief: Shared Code, Shared Future
The Rise of Open Source in Networking

The transformation of data communications over the last forty years has been remarkable. From mainframe terminal connections to the birth of the Internet, the shift has been monumental; the Internet is now viewed as essential as electricity for the global population.

As the Internet democratized, a clear trend toward open-source technologies in networking appeared. Today’s high-capacity fiber networks, speedy low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite networks, and widespread mobile 5G networks are all backed by open- source efforts in blueprints, standards, APIs, architectures, hardware, and software.

In this report, we’ll journey through the history of open-source in networking, assess its present state, and speculate on its future impact. We’ll demonstrate why creating value in networking requires active engagement with open ecosystems and adopting open processes. Throughout, we’ll emphasize the importance of volunteers and visionaries and encourage broad community participation in the projects that drive open networking.

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