Facebook OpenCellular: A Baby Antenna Brings Internet to the Boonies

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Facebook isn't in the wireless business. But it continues to build all sorts of new-fangled wireless hardware. Mark Zuckerberg and company unveiled a creation they call OpenCellular. This is a Sunday-dinner-platter-sized hardware device that attaches to a tree or a street lamp or a telephone pole, and from there it can drive a wireless network, including traditional 2G cell-phone networks, higher speed LTE cellular networks, and smaller Wi-Fi networks like those inside your home, office, or local coffee shop.

Facebook plans on open sourcing the designs for this device, freely sharing them with the world at large, and the hope is that it can provide a simpler and less expensive way of erecting wireless networks in the more rural areas of the developing world, including parts of Africa and India. “There’s not yet a viable business model for operators to set up shop and bring connectivity to rural villages,” says Subbu Subramanian, an engineering director on the project. “We want to make sure people have that connectivity—and that there’s a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem that can spur innovation ever further.”


Facebook OpenCellular: A Baby Antenna Brings Internet to the Boonies