Facebook Unveils OpenCellular Open Source Mobile Access Platform

Facebook has designed and tested an open source, cost-effective, software-defined wireless access platform aimed to improve mobile connectivity in remote areas of the world. Called “OpenCellular” is a reference model intended to be used by platform suppliers, who can use it to provide lower-cost access, allowing networks to reach rural and hard-to-reach areas, with hard-to-sustain business models.

The model also should allow smaller organizations to contemplate building their own localized access networks, when necessary.

In many cellular network deployments, the cost of the civil and supporting infrastructure (land, tower, security, power, and backhaul) is often much greater than the cost of the cellular access point itself. “One of our goals was to make architectural and design improvements that would result in lower costs associated with the civil and supporting infrastructure,” said Kashif Ali, Facebook engineer.

The platform supports a range of communication options from 2G to LTE.

The system is composed of two main subsystems: general-purpose and baseband 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, OEMs, and researchers to locally build, implement, deploy, and operate wireless infrastructure based on this platform.

Facebook will  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.
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Spectrum Futures, to be held in Singapore, 19-21 October 2016, brings together the whole ecosystem supplying Internet access for everyone across South Asia and Southeast Asia, and features topics and speakers addressing why, how, when and where the most-important developments are happening.

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Chris Weasler, Facebook global head, spectrum policy and connectivity planning at Facebook, will be speaking at Spectrum Futures


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