Networking

Qualcomm, Facebook to deliver high-speed internet for 'a fraction' of the cost of fiber

The companies plan to deliver lower-cost connectivity with Facebook's Terragraph tech and Qualcomm's 60GHz technology.

On Monday, Qualcomm and Facebook announced a partnership to deliver high-speed internet connectivity in urban areas for "a fraction of the cost" of fiber, according to a press release.

The companies will leverage Facebook's Terragraph technology—which uses commercial off-the-shelf parts and cloud computing for intensive data processing to deliver high-volume, low-cost production—to build a multi-node wireless system based on 60GHz technology from Qualcomm.

Facebook and Qualcomm will work with "leading operators and manufacturers" to improve the speed, efficiency, and quality of internet connectivity at a lower cost than fiber deployments, the release noted. To achieve this, Qualcomm will integrate its QCA6438 and QCA6428 family of pre-802.11ay chipsets with Facebook's Terragraph technology.

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As noted by our sister site ZDNet, urban areas do not necessarily offer better internet access than rural ones, as more users often means less available spectrum, which can result in congestion and slow speeds.

The partnership will allow manufacturers to build 60GHz mmWave solutions using the unlicensed 60GHz spectrum and provide Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), which can give customers in cities access to high-speed broadband connections, according to the release. This could offer businesses in those areas another low-cost option for high-speed internet, especially if fiber is not yet available.

The companies did not announce which areas would receive the service first, but trials are expected to begin in mid-2019.

Terragraph supports broadband connectivity through a network based on millimeter-wave wireless backhaul, the release said. The technology is based on the pre-802.11ay standard, and enhancements from Qualcomm's chipset and software will help it operate outdoors and avoid interference in city environments. Qualcomm has also introduced a number of improvements including TDMA-based protocol, time synchronized nodes, channel bonding, and massive antenna array to enhance service in dense urban environments and reduce costs and time to market, the release said.

The partnership ultimately "will help make gigabit connectivity a reality," Irvind Ghai, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., said in the release.

It will also enable "a robust ecosystem of interoperable solutions based on Terragraph," Yael Maguire, vice president of connectivity at Facebook, said in the release. "With Terragraph, our goal is to enable people living in urban areas to access high-quality connectivity that can help create new opportunities and strengthen communities."

This isn't Facebook's only connectivity venture: In February, the tech giant and the Telecom Infra Project announced a series of new projects designed to improve poor or non-existent internet connections in rural and underserved areas.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Qualcomm and Facebook announced a partnership to deliver high-speed internet connectivity in urban areas for a fraction of the cost of fiber.
  • The partnership will use Facebook's Terragraph technology to build a multi-node wireless system based on 60GHz technology from Qualcomm.

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Image: iStockphoto/metamorworks

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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