Facebook Introduces OpenCellular to Help Bring Wireless to Remote Areas

Despite being classified as a basic human right by the UN, an estimated 4 billion people worldwide don’t have access to the Internet. Facebook has several efforts aimed at delivering global connectivity at scale through their Internet.org initiative—including the use of drones, satellites, and even laser beams to connect underserved locales.

On Wednesday, the company introduced OpenCellular, a software-based wireless access platform designed to improve connectivity in remote areas. Facebook OpenCellular is approximately the size of a wireless router, and supports everything from 2G to LTE. In addition, up to 1,500 wireless users can receive access via one OpenCellular terminal. The actual system itself, shown above, consists of only five components—limiting both cost & potential serviceable parts.

While Facebook is busy testing the OpenCellular boxes at their own headquarters this Summer, they plan on eventually making the hardware open-source. Facebook is also working with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to build an open-source community around OpenCellular.

Facebook engineer Kashif Ali stressed in his post discussing OpenCellular that the team “will continue to work on OpenCellular by iterating on the design to further reduce the cost and improve efficiency.” Ali also noted the company’s interest in continuing to find new applications for the wireless connectivity community.

More information on Facebook OpenCellular can be found on the company’s open-source blog.