Facebook is working from quite sometime to reduce the number who don’t have access to the internet and trying different options such as solar powered drones and new antennas to connect people on ground. Taking a step ahead, Facebook has launched OpenCellular, a new open source hardware and software project which aims to bring a more affordable wireless access platform to remote areas.
One of the reasons the expansion of cellular networks has stalled is that the ecosystem is constrained. Traditional cellular infrastructure can be very expensive, making it difficult for operators to deploy it everywhere and for smaller organizations or individuals to solve hyperlocal connectivity challenges. It’s often unaffordable for them to attempt to extend network access in both rural and developed communities.
This has been designed to bring down the cost of setting up cellular networks in places where it has been traditionally difficult to do so. The system is designed to provide the tools to set up a complete network, from the physical equipment to the software that runs it.
Facebook describes this device as a “software-defined wireless access platform” that can support several different types of wireless networks, ranging from 2g through LTE, while also providing WiFi and voice calls. The box contains two subsystems: General-baseband computing and Radio with integrated front-end, and is designed to be installed in a variety of harsh conditions. The box is run by an open sourced operating system that can be run from a remote location.
Facebook is testing these boxes and initial version of OpenCellular platform should be available in the summer. Facebook says it will keep the hardware design, firmware and control software for OpenCellular as open source, so telecom operators, entrepreneurs, researchers and OEMs will be able to build their own versions.