San Francisco WISP buys Facebook's 60GHz Terragraph equipment

A small wireless ISP in San Francisco signed on to use Facebook's Terragraph wireless technology running in the unlicensed 60GHz band. However, Common Networks isn't sure yet whether it will label the service as '5G.'

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

February 25, 2019

3 Min Read
San Francisco WISP buys Facebook's 60GHz Terragraph equipment

Common Networks, a startup in the Bay Area of San Francisco, is going to use equipment built by Facebook for its fixed wireless Internet service.

Specifically, Common said it will deploy Facebook's Terragraph technology in 60GHz to provide $50/month in-home Internet services at speeds up to 2.5 Gbit/s.

"We're just getting started," said Common Networks CEO Zach Brock. "So far the performance is great."

To be clear, Common's deployment of Facebook's Terragraph technology will initially cover a very small number of customers. Common was founded in 2016 and today it offers service in select parts of the Bay Area, counting around 1,000 customers. The company initially built out its network using equipment from the likes of Mimosa, Ubiquiti and other fixed wireless network equipment suppliers across mainly the 5GHz band, supplying speeds of around 150 Mbit/s.

Now, though, thanks to its new agreement with Facebook, the social media giant will build Common's network equipment for services in the unlicensed 60GHz band. Brock said Common plans to replace some of its existing equipment with Facebook's Terragraph gear, and also will use that equipment to expand into new coverage areas.

Common operates what is essentially a mesh network for in-home Internet services, wherein it broadcasts its signal from a rooftop to receivers installed on the outsides of customers' homes. The company raised a $25 million Series B round of venture funding last year for its continued expansion.

Common joins a handful of other operators around the world using Facebook's Terragraph technology, including YTL Communications in Malaysia and Deutsche Telekom in Hungary. And just today US telecom provider Agile Networks said it will launch a new pilot deployment of fixed wireless in Canton, Ohio, using Radwin's Terragraph equipment. Introduced in 2016, Facebook's Terragraph is one of a handful of network technologies introduced by the social media giant with the goal of making it easier for more companies to provide Internet service to more people.

Although Common's Brock declined to provide financial specifics, he said that he expects the cost of Terragraph equipment to decline as the technology continues to mature.

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Common is one of a number of new entrants on the fixed wireless scene in the US. And the company isn't the only one leveraging a new wireless network technology. C Spire, for example, recently launched fixed wireless services on its licensed 28GHz spectrum using transmission technology and equipment from Phazr, a technology startup acquired by JMA Wireless last year. And Verizon continues to operate its own 5G Home service on its 28GHz spectrum using its proprietary 5GTF transmission standard.

For Facebook though, the addition of Common to its ranks of supporters gives the company another notable -- but relatively modest -- boost. But Terragraph is just one element in a much broader effort by Facebook in the telecom industry -- for example, the company founded the Telecom Infra Project, which continues to work on a variety of efforts geared at taking costs out of the networking space.

So, will Common use the "5G" label to advertise its fixed wireless Internet services, as Verizon and C Spire are doing? Brock said the company is considering such a move, but he said it isn't clear yet whether the 5G label will ultimately help or hurt Common's chances in the market. Thus, he said the company will essentially take a wait-and-see approach to using the 5G label in its marketing, in case consumer sentiment turns against 5G.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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