To help fulfil its mission of connecting the world, Facebook has launched a new open source hardware and software project called OpenCellular with the intent of bringing a more affordable wireless access platform to remote areas.
Facebook Engineer, Kashif Ali explained the social network's reasoning behind launching this new open source project: “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 organisations 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.”
Before joining Facebook, Ali co-founded the company Endaga which gave users the ability to set up their own Internet networks in remote areas using its CCN1 box. The company was acquired by Facebook last October and since then it has become a part of the social network's mission to connect the world.
OpenCellular will be made up of two main subsystems with one being allocated to general purpose and base-band computing while the other one will handle the actual radio. Both systems will be modular and rugged as they will likely be deployed in areas with harsh conditions. OpenCelluar's devices will be designed to withstand high winds and extreme temperatures but will still be light enough that a single individual can install one.
Facebook will be open sourcing the hardware design, firmware and control software for OpenCellular. This will allow telecom operators, entrepreneurs, researchers and OEMs to build their own versions of these devices.
Connecting the entire world is an ambitious goal that Facebook, Google and many other tech companies are currently seeking as more connected users is beneficial to their companies and to the world as a whole.
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