Facebook recently unveiled its latest connectivity initiative, where it is working with organisations to bring more people online.
As part of the announcement, Facebook punted OpenCellular – its open source and cost-effective, software-defined wireless access platform.
The OpenCellular platform can be deployed to support a range of communication options, from a network in a box to an access point supporting 2G to LTE.
An OpenCellular device is about the size of a shoe box and can support up to 1,500 people from up to 10km away.
This week, Facebook announced a joint trial with BT, Nokia, and Cavium to demonstrate interoperability between the OpenCellular platform and the Nokia community-hosted network.
Facebook also said that Vodacom announced a trial of OpenCellular in Africa.
This came as news to many, as Vodacom did not announce the trial.
No details from Vodacom
When Vodacom was asked for comment on the trial, it said that no announcement has been made.
Vodacom could also not provide any details about its OpenCellular trial in Africa, instead pointing to a blog post from Vodafone about the issue.
Vodacom then said it was a joint initiative between Vodafone and itself, but could not provide any details about the trial.
Vodafone in turn said it is developing new technologies designed to enable the cost-effective deployment of base stations in unconnected areas of Africa and India.
The deployment will be supported by Vodafone’s Open RAN technology and Facebook’s OpenCellular wireless access platform, which were developed within the Telecom Infra Project (TIP).
Vodafone has already conducted trials in India with two vendors which have developed bespoke high-power base stations using software-defined radio and general-purpose hardware, it added.
More trials are planned for later in 2018, where up to 200 sites will be equipped with the new technology.
Tests are also currently taking place in South Africa with TIP’s OpenCellular platform for 2G and 4G services.