Facebook launches open source cellular system

11 July 2016 |


Facebook has launched OpenCellular, an open source wireless access platform that aims to bring more affordable connectivity to remote parts of the world.

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 analogue front-end. 

The platform can be deployed to support a range of communications options, from a network in a box to an access point, “supporting everything from 2G to LTE”, said the company. The industrial and mechanical design of the device is said to be able to withstand harsh conditions, such as high winds and extreme temperatures. 

According to Facebook, the cost of the civil and supporting infrastructure is often greater than the cost of the cellular access point itself. 

“With OpenCellular, we want 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,” said the company. “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.”

Facebook will be working with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) members, a Facebook-initiative that aims to bring together operators, system integrators, infrastructure providers and other technology companies. 

Last July, the company revealed its first full-scale solar-powered drone which it plans to provide internet access in remote parts of the world.