Facebook announces OpenCellular, an open source wireless platform

For several years now, Facebook has been exploring initiatives to bring internet access to remote parts of the world. There's been internet delivery via drones, and the controversial Free Basics platform, but their newest project is OpenCellular, which aims to make cellular networks cheaper to set up in similarly remote areas. As an open source "wireless access platform," OpenCellular includes both the software and hardware needed to establish a network.

Facebook says the software will be made available later this summer, while the hardware, which is no bigger than a shoe box, is still in testing. Once set up, an OpenCellular unit can act as an access point for 2G, LTE, and WiFi networks, and is capable of supporting up to 1,500 users at a max range of 10 kilometers.

The goal of OpenCellular is to address the problem of how expensive infrastructure improvements can be for rural areas. While the importance of internet access continues to grow, small villages and towns don't always get the financing to lay new cables and build signal towers.

But don't expect Facebook to launch its own broadband or cellular service. The company says it wants the boxes and software to be customized and adapted by service providers, and hopes that other members of the Telecom Infra Project will help build a community around the OpenCellular platform.

SOURCE Facebook