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Facebook boosts internet-for-all bid with OpenCellular boxes

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Facebook has announced a new initiative to boost its long-running efforts to bring internet access to remote areas.

The shoebox-style OpenCellular boxes will support connectivity for 1,500 people from as far as 10 kilometres away.

The open source wireless access platform will support everything from 2G connections to 4G LTE to Wi-Fi connectivity.

The boxes have been designed for urban and rural areas and will be attached to a variety of freestanding structures like trees and lamp posts.

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Facebook says it will open source the hardwarer and software design to “enable telecom operators, entrepreneurs, OEMs, and researchers to locally build, implement, deploy, and operate wireless infrastructure based on this platform,” the company said.

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In a post on his personal page, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “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.”

Facebook’s latest efforts, which also include solar powered internet-bearing aircraft and high-bandwidth laser beams, will boost its bid to bring basic internet access to the 4 billion people around the world without it.

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