Aside from being the giant of social media with massive numbers, Facebook has positioned itself as an industry leader in connectivity by creating platforms to make the internet available to around the world.
Last year, it announced Free Basics, a service that lets users visit popular websites without using any data.
On July 6, 2016, Facebook announced that it had designed and tested Opencellular, an open source and cost-effective, software-defined wireless access platform aimed to improve connectivity in remote areas of the world.
Facebook Engineer Kasif Ali explained that OpenCellular was created to improve connectivity since it can be deployed to support a range of communication options, from a network in a box to an access point supporting everything from 2G to LTE.
Ali also noted that the company aims to contribute OpenCellular to the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) so everyone in the ecosystem can benefit from this technology. For those who don’t know, TIP is a conglomerate of operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, and other technology companies who have come together to innovate new technologies and approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure across emerging and more mature markets.
As at June 30, 2016, Africa had the lowest Internet penetration in the world at about 29%. Only 330 million out of more than 1 billion Africans, one in three, are connected to the Internet.
One potential contender to bring OpenCellular to Nigeria is MTN, who are members of the Telecom Infra Project along with Facebook. We would expect an announcement from either party detailing collaborative effort to bring OpenCellular to Nigeria just as Facebook partnered with Airtel Africa to provide Free Basics in Nigeria.