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08 July 2016

Facebook to Bring the Internet to Remote Parts of the World

OpenCellular is a shoebox-sized device that can deliver a
range of options from second generation wireless technology
(2G) to the high speed LTE wireless communications.
Facebook to bring the internet to remote parts of the world: OpenCellular system lets anyone create a wireless network
by Abigail Beall For Mailonline, 7 July 2016

- Open source hardware has been designed so that anyone can build
- Some do not realise how easy it is to create a network, Facebook says
- Design currently being tested at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park
- The company is expecting to release the system later this summer


Facebook is attempting to deliver the internet to some of the most remote places in the world.

In its latest efforts, the group has launched a 'wireless access platform' designed to drive down the cost of setting up internet networks in places that lack the resources.

The system provides the tools to set up a network, including the hardware and software, and it should be available later this summer.

The system is capable of delivering a range of options from second generation wireless technology (2G) to the high speed LTE wireless.

The designs for the device, which has been named OpenCellular, will be made open source so that anyone can use them to build their own and start their own network.

'We designed OpenCellular as an open system so anyone, from telecom operators to researchers to entrepreneurs, can build and operate wireless networks in remote places. It's about the size of a shoe box and can support up to 1,500 people from as far as 10 kilometers away,' said Facebook's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in a status update.

Facebook engineer Kashif Ali also introduced the new platform in a blog post.

'As of the end of 2015, more than four billion people were still not connected to the internet, and 10 percent of the world's population were living outside the range of cellular connectivity,' he said.

'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.

'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.'

OpenCellular is a shoebox-sized device that can deliver a range of options from second generation wireless technology (2G) to the high speed LTE wireless.

So far in the lab at Facebook, the team has been able to send and receive text messages, make voice calls and use basic data connectivity using 2G with the system.

'Anyone can customise the platform to meet their connectivity needs and set up the network of their choosing, in both rural and urban areas,' Mr Ali said.

'For instance, the system, due to its on-board computing and storage capacity, can be configured as network-in-a-box or purely as a cellular access point.'

The design is currently being tested at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

The project is the latest development in Facebook's attempt to make the internet reach the corners of the Earth.

'Along with our solar-powered aircraft Aquila and high-bandwidth laser beams, OpenCellular is the next step on our journey to provide better, more affordable connectivity to bring the world closer together,' Mark Zuckerberg said.

Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky.

It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.

Lasers will be used to beam signals to Earth from drones in the air, which will act like mobile phone masts from 65,000 feet (19.8km) high.

Some have criticised these plans, suggesting they are an attempt to increase the number of users of the social media site, which already stands at 1.6 billion worldwide.

HOW AQUILA WILL WORK

Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky.

It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.

The drone will hover between 60,000 feet and 90,000 feet (20 and 30 km), above the altitude of commercial airplanes, so that it is not affected by problematic weather.

During the day, they will float up to 90,000 feet (30 km) and at night will drift down to 60,000 feet (20 km) to conserve energy.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3678980/Facebook-bring-internet-remote-parts-world-OpenCellular-lets-make-wireless-network.html

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