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It’s easy to forget that there are loads of people that don’t have access to the internet, owing to their remote locations and the price of connectivity and infrastructure.
In fact, Facebook claims that over four billion people are unconnected and that 10 percent of the global population lives outside cellular range. It added that the cost of traditional cellular infrastructure was prohibitively expensive in many areas.
“In many cellular network deployments, the cost of the civil and supporting infrastructure (land, tower, security, power, and backhaul) is often much greater than the cost of the cellular access point itself,” it explained.
The social network hopes to solve this issue with the introduction of its OpenCellular platform, bringing cheap infrastructure in the form of a little connected box.
The OpenCellular hardware is designed with open-source principles in mind, Facebook’s Kashif Ali said in a post.
A full-featured piece of kit
In a rather cool touch, the platform supports “everything from 2G to LTE” and WiFi, Ali elaborated.
“Facebook plans to open-source the hardware design, along with necessary firmware and control software, to enable telecom operators, entrepreneurs, OEMs, and researchers to locally build, implement, deploy, and operate wireless infrastructure based on this platform.”
The social network says that aside from open-sourcing the hardware design, it’s also working on areas such as software management systems, amplifiers, filters, antennas and brackets.
Ali explained that the hardware design was meant to withstand “some of the harshest conditions in the world”. Deployment was meant to be relatively trivial too, as Ali said it could be installed by one person onto a pole, tree or even a tall tower.
As for power usage, the OpenCellular box supports power over Ethernet, solar power, Lithium-ion batteries, external batteries or traditional DC.
“So far in our lab at Facebook, we are able to send and receive SMS messages, make voice calls, and use basic data connectivity using 2G implementation on our platform.”