Facebook has designed and tested an open source and cost-effective, software-defined wireless access platform aimed to improve connectivity in remote areas of the world, the company announced this week.
“Despite the widespread global adoption of mobile phones over the last 20 years, the cellular infrastructure required to support basic connectivity and more advanced capabilities like broadband is still unavailable or unaffordable in many parts of the world,” the company wrote on its website. “At Facebook, we want to help solve this problem, and we are pursuing multiple approaches aimed at improving connectivity infrastructure and lowering the cost of deploying and operating that infrastructure.”
The platform is designed to improve connectivity since it can be deployed to support a range of communication options, from a network in a box to an access point supporting everything from 2G to LTE. The system is composed of two main subsystems: general-purpose and base-band computing (GBC) with integrated power and housekeeping system, and radio frequency (RF) with integrated analog front-end.
“Today we are announcing the OpenCellular access platform, and over time, we will be open-sourcing the design,” Facebook wrote. “We will also work on other elements like the software management system, hardware design, baseband, amplifier, filter, mounting device, and antennas.”
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.
“We aim to work with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) members to build an active open source community around cellular access technology development and to select trial locations for further validation of technical, functional, and operational aspects of the platform,” the company wrote.