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Facebook wants to do to 5G what it has already done to the datacenter

New Facebook-led initiative aims to speed up delivery of faster wireless networks with open development, similar to the Open Compute Project.
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Written by Steve Ranger, Editorial director, ZDNet on

Facebook needs faster wireless for its customers, and wants telecoms manufacturers and operators to work together to make it happen.

Image: iStock

Facebook wants telecoms operators and manufacturers to work with it on open designs for the next generation of wireless networks.

Facebook's users are increasingly sharing their cat photos, videos, and other updates over wireless rather than wired networks. And with the advent of bandwidth-guzzling consumer virtual reality, perhaps just a few years away, the social media giant needs telecoms operators and manufacturers to up the pace of development to ensure their infrastructure will meet demand.

To do this, it has unveiled what it calls the Telecom Infra Project -- a cross-industry engineering initiative to speed up the development of open source components for existing and future telecom networks.

An initial set of members including Facebook, Intel, and Nokia will contribute a suite of reference designs, while operators such as Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom will help define and deploy the technology. The group will explore new approaches and technologies across three initial areas: access, backhaul, and core and management, focusing on developing new technologies and new deployment options for developed and emerging markets.

Facebook said TIP's work will focus on disaggregating the hardware and software layers in the traditional network stack, turning them into building blocks which can be more easily recombined to make network deployments simpler. It will also work to accelerate technologies like 5G.

Facebook argues the quickest way for these technologies to be developed and deployed is to openly collaborate.

"By working in the open, we can accelerate the pace of innovation and put the days of monolithic, costly evolution behind us," said Jason Taylor, vice president for infrastructure at Facebook.

Facebook has been here before, having previously launched the Open Compute Project (OCP) that developed the open source components needed for the giant data centers the company runs.

Taylor, who is also president of that initiative, said: "Where OCP addresses hardware in the data center, TIP will focus on interoperable software systems and components involved in access, backhaul, and core networks, with the goal of building an open ecosystem in which many companies can contribute to the advancement of each."

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