Facebook’s OpenCellular: A New Open Source Platform For Network Access In Remote Areas
IT | Jul 8, 2016 | Master3395
Facebook has announced a new open source network platform titled as OpenCellular. This is Facebook’s attempt to spread the network in the areas where the terms internet and the web don’t exist in the dictionary. The platform is currently in the testing phase at the Facebook HQ.
Facebook – the blue network – has been a prime contributor to the open source community. Over the years, they have managed to build various open source tools for different platforms. A new addition that has been made to their open source product list is OpenCellular. It is an open source wireless access platform developed by the minds at Facebook.
With their new OpenCellular system in action, Facebook eyes a cost-effective and dependable network solution for deployment in remote areas. Their system is flexible enough to provide multiple connectivity options ranging from the old 2G network to the 4G high-speed LTE network and even as a Wi-Fi access point. Well, I can call it the Optimus Prime of the cellular networks.
The hardware design and specifications of the OpenCellular platform will also be open sourced over time, says Facebook. They will focus on both the software and hardware front. The OpenCellular hardware is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and operating situations. It’s no wonder you may be able to use the internet in the dense Amazon forests or the Himalayan peaks in the near future.
Facebook is working very hard to make sure that the OpenCelullar hardware requires minimalistic repairs as the location might be inaccessible sometimes. “It’s important for the system to function without much maintenance or service overhead, especially if it’s located in a remote area where technical experts aren’t readily available. To this end, we are extending an existing open source, real-time operating system that is easy to monitor and run remotely. The system can also reconfigure itself and issue alarms when additional support is needed,” – writes Kashif Ali in his blog post.
The hardware could be used to deploy a cellular access point or a complete network-in-a-box – like the one built by Nokia Networks a couple of years ago — in the regions were a little to no network coverage is present. It will come handy in situations of natural disasters where the cellular networks get out of service. Facebook will work with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) for the selection of trail location for “further validation of technical, functional, and operational aspects of the platform.”
This is another Facebook mission to make the internet available for the world. The internet.org initiative launched by Facebook will be definitely benefitted by the OpenCellular platform. In fact, a large chunk of the world population doesn’t have access to the internet or even basic things like clean water and nutritious food. Facebook’s open source efforts will be beneficial for such people. It can be used to provide education in hard to access areas where internet connectivity is only a dream of the future.
What do you think about OpenCellular? Tell us in the comments below.
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