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CEGA-backed Tech Spinout Joins Facebook

Technology
Philippines Floodway, Dominic Chavez, World Bank

Homes built along the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig, Philippines on July 11, 2014. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Facebook “acqui-hires” tech spinout seeded by CEGA to expand cellular connectivity worldwide.

In 2015, Facebook acquired Endaga’s technology and founders. Endaga was a tech-spinout seeded by CEGA’s Development Impact Lab with a mission to bring cellular access to the more than 1 billion people worldwide who don’t have it.

In low-income settings, many people live in sparsely populated rural regions, with weak power infrastructure, making it prohibitively expensive for most telecommunications companies to operate. Living outside the network means limited access to important services like emergency communications, market price information, and job opportunities.

Endaga was founded in 2014 by three UC Berkeley graduate students and postdoctoral scholars—a new generation of social impact-driven scientists called “​development engineers​,” a field incubated by CEGA at UC Berkeley. Advised by CEGA affiliated professor, Eric Brewer, Endaga was established to help small rural communities build and maintain their own wireless networks—what they called a “cellular network in a box.”

The project received varied university support, including three years of funding from the Development Impact Lab​, which enabled the first Village Base Station pilot in Papua, Indonesia. The Development Impact Lab is currently supporting an evaluation of a deployment of multiple networks in the Philippines with Globe Telecom. Facebook became aware of this work through the partnership with Globe, funded the Philippines project, and eventually decided to acquire the Endaga team and technology.

To date, thousands of people have received cellular access through Endaga. With Facebook’s involvement, this low-cost, high-impact product and architecture will be adapted into FB connectivity products, improving the quality of life for millions around the world. Facebook is currently adapting and scaling these models of community wireless networks, for example with Project Magma in Peru and Uganda and OpenCellular in the Congo.

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