dividual components like the power
subsystem separated from the rest
of the system. This allows organizations building OC devices to “pick and
choose” the features that are relevant
to their context. For instance, daugh-ter-boards allow for the base system to
expand to radio technologies outside
of GSM and LTE and into future technologies like LoRA. Similarly, the components listed here, such as the built-in
battery backup, can be removed from
the board during manufacturing to save
cost if the grid power is expected to be
clean. Lastly, new subsystem modules,
such as an inexpensive WiFi hotspot,
could be added before manufacturing.
Lastly, we need to enable these
new designs to scale. To do this, OC
has been released as open source
hardware, including all the schematics, layout, CAD, BoM, and firmware
needed to enable large-scale industrial manufacturing. Additionally, all
testing software is also open source,
so anyone (either an OEM/CM or university students) can replicate and produce OC hardware at the same quality level as current industrial partners;
the software is available at https://bit.
ly/2xREpUD. Because of the rich suite
of software and hardware supporting
the platform, motivated organizations
can extend OpenCellular to meet their
needs and then manufacture the equipment at scale locally in the country, increasing local capacity, reducing costs,
and stimulating the local economy.
Designing infrastructure for rural areas
that can leverage the local context—the
skills, knowledge, and affordances of
the communities that live there—is a
difficult task. With OC we chose to fo-
cus on four key elements. The first is the
user platform, ensuring the intervention
uses technologies that are common and
available. The next is ensuring we sup-
port a diverse range of power and net-
work technologies as well as business
models—some of the key differentiators
between rural communities. Lastly, we
recognize the limitations of our own de-
signs and capabilities by releasing OC as
open source hardware, complete with all
of the designs necessary to modify and
manufacture the solution. It is our hope
that, through the lens of OpenCellular,
readers can see how to similarly design
their own interventions with these con-
cerns in mind. While we are hopeful that
OpenCellular itself brings connectivity to
the world, rural access problems always
require holistic solutions that are driven
by the needs, abilities, and limitations of
the communities themselves. As such,
we also aspire to allow motivated individ-
uals and organizations take OpenCellu-
lar, expand it to fit their needs, and create
a diverse ecosystem of rural access solu-
tions. Join us at https://bit.ly/2JoFa8Y to
participate in this process.
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4. Galperin, H. and Bar, F. The Microtelco opportunity:
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& International Development 3, 2 (Feb. 2006).
5. Heimerl, K. et al. Local, Sustainable, small-scale
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6. Mikhaylov, K., Petaejaejaervi. J., and Haenninen, T.
Analysis of capacity and scalability of the LoRa low
power wide area network technology. In European
7. New Economics Foundation. Co-production: A
manifesto for growing the core economy. New
Economics Foundation, 2008.
8. OpenCellular Telecom Infra Project; https://bit.ly/2hJE0u2
9. Surana, S. et al. Beyond pilots: Keeping rural wireless
networks alive. In Proceedings of the 5th USENIX
Symposium on Networked Systems Design and
Implementation. Berkeley, CA, USA, 2008.
10. Telecom Infrastructure Project; https://bit.ly/2sF1hlj
11. Touchard, G. The State of Connectivity in Emerging
Markets. OpenCellular Workshop, Nairobi, Kenya, 2017.
Kashif Ali ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an engineer at Facebook
Kurtis Heimerl ( email@example.com) is an
assistant professor at the University of Washington, USA.
The Telecom Infra Project is offering grant opportunities
for organizations looking to use OpenCellular; see https://
for more information. Applications will be due in Fall 2018.
Copyright held by authors.
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