Facebook has lately introduced OpenCellular, which is being marketed as an inexpensive, open source wireless access platform. It is designed to enable telecom operators, entrepreneurs, OEMs and researchers to be able to create, implement, install and operate wireless infrastructures so that people living in remote areas can also get access to the internet.
The platform supports a host of options, ranging from network in a box to an access point. It can support all existing wireless systems, thus can be used as a hotspot server for any type of data service. The description though contains no reference to the bands used, and covering all of them is simply impractical and unfeasible. Instead, covering 24 or so most popular bands could be a better option at the cost of $10 to $15 addition in the bill of materials, and it is speculated that this will be the case.
How it works:
OpenCellular consists of two main subsystems that run the device; first the general-purpose and baseband computing, or GBC. This comes with integrated power and a housekeeping system. And the second, radio frequency (RF) with an integrated front end.
Its hardware blueprints, all the details of the required firmware and control software will be open source in a bid to encourage people to build it as a DIY project. And a brief look at the design details reveals that it is quite easy to build; so much so that you can build it in your garage if you have the hardware.
Facebook is looking to form a coalition with the Telecom Infra Project to create and thrive an open source community around cellular access technology development. It will also enable Facebook to select trial locations for further testing.
Some of the design features and elements like the software management system, hardware design, filter, mounting device and antennae baseband and the amplifier are still under development and according to Facebook will be released soon.
OpenCellular is very easy to be customized, put up together and used as desired in rural or urban areas.
Some of the salient features include:
- Modular design – that means it can be built in layers;
- Simplified installation and support – open hardware and software designs;
- Maximization of usage of the local infrastructure thus minimizing civil costs;
- Localized/DIY manufacturing and lightweight supply chain;
- Scalable design and business plan for various population densities;
- Low CapEx and OpEx.
Do you think OpenCellular will revolutionize the world of Wi-Fi once and for all? Comment below!