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Facebook unveils open source wireless access platform

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A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in Zenica, in this photo illustration Pic: vocidicitta.itA smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013. Facebook Inc said July 24, 2013 that revenue in the second quarter was $1.813 billion, compared to $1.184 billion in the year ago period. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic /Files (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Tags: SOCIETY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)

New York: In a fresh bid to connect nearly four billion people to internet, Facebook on Thursday announced an open source and cost-effective, software-defined wireless access platform aimed to improve connectivity in remote areas of the world, reports IANS.

The platform named OpenCellular 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 Long-Term Evolution (LTE), Facebook engineer Kashif Ali wrote in a blog post.

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.


“Facebook plans to open-source the hardware design, along with necessary firmware and control software, to enable telecom operators, entrepreneurs, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and researchers to locally build, implement, deploy and operate wireless infrastructure based on this platform,” Ali wrote.

Facebook aims to work with the members of its engineering-focused initiative Telecom Infra Project (TIP) 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.

“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,” Ali pointed out.

Facebook in February announced the Telecom Infra Project which will look at developing new and alternative technologies to build and deploy telecom infrastructure with partners. “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,” he posted.

With OpenCellular, Facebook wants to develop affordable new technology that can expand capacity and make it more cost-effective for operators to deploy networks in places where coverage is scarce. “By open-sourcing the hardware and software designs for this technology, we expect costs to decrease for operators and to make it accessible to new participants,” Ali said.