FACEBOOK HAS ROPED IN QUALCOMM to work on high-speed wireless internet by working on a project to figure out how to send data through networks more effectively in urban jungles.
The social network has been working on its Terragraph Project for a couple of years now to use unlicensed spectrum to tackle network congestion and speed-sapping bottlenecks that occur when networks are experiencing high levels of demand.
Qualcomm has been brought on board to provide the hardware and backbone infrastructure, as well as protocol wrangling, to Terragraph.
"We're excited to work with Qualcomm Technologies to advance the adoption of pre-802.11ay and 802.11ad 60GHz technologies and build a robust ecosystem of interoperable solutions based on Terragraph," said Yael Maguire, vice president of connectivity, Facebook. "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."
With this partnership, Terragraph will use a "multi-node wireless system" to effectively offer people an alternative to fibre broadband in areas where laying the cables would require ripping up streets and pavements.
Facebook plans to plonk these nodes at 200-250 metre intervals and will use the 60GHz part of unlicensed spectrum to deliver some 7GHz of bandwidth, through Facebook said "forward-facing" countries like the US are looking to push that to 154GHz.
Field trials of Terragraph are expected to pop up in 2019, and will use 802.11ay wireless technology, usually associated with backhaul networks that deliver broadband to the so-called ‘last mile' part of broadband connectivity, which is why nodes will need to be placed at reasonably close intervals.
Facebook reckons the deployment of Terragraph will be a fraction of the cost of laying fibre. But there's arguably a fly in the internet ointment in the form of 5G, which Qualcomm is working on, as it can break the bandwidth caps of 4G and deliver gigabit speed wireless broadband which could render Terragraph moot before it gets off the ground.
But we'll have to wait for another 12 months or so before we cast any further casual judgements. µ
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