Facebook needs mobile phone data networks to work faster, so they’re asking telecommunications companies to partner with them and share designs, in an initiative that could accelerate the spread of 5G connectivity.
The company announced the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), an engineering-focused initiative that aims at bringing operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, and other technology companies together to collaborate on the development of new technologies.
"We know from our experience with the Open Compute Project that the best way to accelerate the pace of innovation is for companies to collaborate and to work in the open. To kick-start this work, TIP members such as Facebook, Intel, and Nokia have pledged to contribute an initial suite of reference designs, while other members such as operators Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom will help define and deploy the technology as it fits their needs," Facebook said.
TIP members will work together to contribute designs in three areas — access, backhaul, and core and management. In what is a traditionally closed system, component pieces will be unbundled, affording operators more flexibility in building networks. This will result in gains in cost and operational efficiency for both rural and urban deployments. As the effort progresses, TIP members will work together to accelerate development of technologies like 5G that will pave the way for better connectivity and richer services.
Facebook, in collaboration with Globe, recently launched a pilot deployment based on TIP principles to connect a small village in the Philippines that previously did not have cellular coverage. In addition, EE is planning to work as part of TIP to pilot a community-run 4G coverage solution that can withstand the challenges presented by the remote environment of the Scottish Highlands to connect unconnected communities.
In the U.S., to help stimulate development, the two largest wireless carriers Verizon Communications and AT&T have scheduled the first 5G field tests for sometime this year. The first agreement on industry standards is still years away and the introduction of the first 5G service of any type isn’t expected until 2020.