Facebook has just unveiled a creation that has the potential to significantly move the needle when it comes to bringing internet and cellular access to remote communities across the world, which has long been an interest for the company.
OpenCellular is an open-source wireless access platform built around a hardware device that can be attached to things like trees and telephone poles in order to support wireless networks ranging from 2G to LTE, as well as Wi-Fi. Facebook states that the platform will make cellular infrastructure many times more affordable and accessible. This in turn will make it easier for remote areas in developing countries to gain wireless connectivity.
The system is comprised of two main subsystems, general-purpose and base-band computing with integrated power, and radio frequency with integrated analog front-end.
One of the most exciting aspects of the project is that Facebook plans to open source the hardware, firmware and software to “enable telecom operators, entrepreneurs, OEMs, and researchers to locally build, implement, deploy, and operate wireless infrastructure based on this platform.”
As part of the Telecom Infra Project, an initiative that aims to reimagine the traditional approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure, Facebook plans to build an open source community around cellular access tech development, and will soon choose trial locations for further validation of the platform.
The company says it was inspired by the fact that, “As of the end of 2015, more than 4 billion people were still not connected to the internet, and 10 percent of the world’s population were living outside the range of cellular connectivity.”
The system is currently being tested, states Facebook in its news release, and the company is also in talks with OEM and ODM partners to make the platform widely available. Facebook expects the first implementation of their platform to be available this summer.
In its blog post, Facebook encourages those that are interested in learning more to email the company.
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