Facebook has been trying to expand its user base by targeting a particular market that might surprise you: those without internet. This isn’t about social media, though. The company has been working to expand internet access throughout the world. Now it is reaching another milestone in that quest.
Facebook just announced OpenCellular: an open source, software-defined, wireless access platform aimed to improve connectivity in remote areas of the world.
In recognition of the fact that it is often infrastructure constraints that prevent network coverage in rural areas, Facebook has developed its platform that makes it more cost-effective for operators to deploy networks in places where coverage is scarce. OpenCellular can support a range of communication options, from a network in a box to an access point supporting everything from 2G to LTE. It will eventually be open-sourcing both hardware design and the software that runs it.
Testing is underway at the Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, where OpenCellular is able to send and receive SMS messages, make voice calls, and use basic data connectivity using the 2G implementation of the platform.