MWC: Facebook announces new networking partnerships to bring more people online

Facebook's plan to redefine wireless access includes its Terragraph wireless system and OpenCellular base station.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Facebook announced new partner initiatives for its Terragraph wireless system and OpenCellular base station project.
  • The Telecom Infra Project, which aims to advance work in networking infrastructure, has grown to include some 500 companies.

On Monday, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Facebook announced new partner projects related to two of its next-generation wireless initiatives—Terragraph and OpenCellular, according to a blog post.

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP)—a joint initiative started by Facebook and various other industry partners—has also grown to include 500 companies, according to the post. The growth of TIP and the new initiatives from Facebook could help improve connectivity both in dense urban areas, but also in rural regions.

Facebook initially announced Terragraph in 2016, as a tool to help cities build more efficient wireless systems. It's a multi-node system that uses phase array antennae to steer traffic around objects that would normally interfere with it, such as tall buildings.

SEE: Wireless networking policy (Tech Pro Research)

At the F8 developer conference in 2017, Facebook said one of the goals of Terragraph was to help build faster networks at lower cost. At MWC, Facebook announced that partner firms would be taking the technology to field trials in two locations.

"Deutsche Telekom is actively evaluating millimeter-wave technology use across Europe," the post said. "Magyar Telekom, the largest Hungarian telecommunications company and a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, is planning to deploy a Terragraph field trial in the Budapest area. We are also partnering with Telenor to conduct a Terragraph production field trial in Kuala Lumpur."

Additionally, Intel and Radwin will be working on reference designs for Terragraph, and Nokia will be performing gigabit broadband trials with the technology as well, the post noted.

At MWC, Facebook also noted that a partnership with Telefonica had delivered high-speed mobile internet to thousands of native Peruvians in the Amazonian rainforest and other areas. Telefonica will also be testing the OpenCellular LTE RAN platform as a means of extending existing 3G and 4G wireless, the post said. Facebook will also be working with telecom provider Orange to do similar work in parts of Africa.

Another new trial with BT, Nokia, and Cavium will test the use of the OpenCellular base station in remote parts of Scotland, the post said.

"Separately, Vodacom announced a trial of OpenCellular in Africa, and Telenor announced it will be conducting an OpenCellular trial in Pakistan," the post said.

According to the post, Facebook is expanding its network initiatives through a host of other partner projects, and is also working on machine learning-optimized population density maps to further improve network design.

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Image: Facebook

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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