BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2016 -- Facebook is taking yet another angle on its mission of connecting the world with the formation of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), a consortium made up of the social network, telecom service providers and vendors that will work together to open source communications networking technologies outside of the data center.
Jay Parikh, Facebook's global head of engineering and infrastructure, wrote in a blog post Monday that scaling traditional telecom infrastructure to meet the global demand for data is not moving as fast as people need it to. Its goal is to drive a faster pace of innovation, just like it did with the Open Compute Project and, more recently, OCP Telco, focused on data center networking. (See Major Telcos Join Facebook's Open Compute Project, Open Compute Project Hits Critical Mass and Equinix Looks to Future-Proof Network Through Open Computing.)
Addressing the Mobile World Congress audience in a keynote Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expanded on the announcement, explaining that open sourcing its servers, network equipment and data centers via Open Compute has consistently caused demand and volume to go up and prices to go down. Facebook itself has saved more than $2 billion in the past three years, he said.
"So now we're trying to roll it out to telcos too, so we can make it more efficient to deliver infrastructure for building the Internet and take out the costs for operator partners," Zuckerberg said. "If that goes well, maybe some of that savings will get passed to consumers in terms of cheaper data plans."
As part of the consortium, Nokia and Intel will contribute an initial suite of reference designs around access, backhaul and core and management, while Facebook's operator partners will define and deploy the technology to fit their needs. All of the work will be open sourced and the group is open to all.
"This will result in significant gains in cost and operational efficiency for both rural and urban deployments," Parikh writes. "As the effort progresses, TIP members will work together to accelerate development of technologies like 5G that will pave the way for better connectivity and richer services."
Zuckerberg made several appeals to the telcos in his keynote address, insisting the social network is their friend and is pure in its motive to connect the 4.1 billion people across the globe that still lack connectivity -- not to make money. Facebook is also engaged in projects to use drones, balloons, satellites and other connectivity methods, under the umbrella of its internet.org initiative. (See The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?, Google Working With FAA on US Drone License and Broadband: It's All Hot Air for Google.)
For TIP's members, they are going along with Facebook as the operators are interested in cheaper, commodity infrastructure while the vendors are looking for new ways to stay relevant and expand their sales.
"I hope we finish the job of making sure everyone in the world gets Internet access," Zuckerberg said. "I really hope the folks who are here focus on both priorities -- extending bandwidth with lower latency and faster speeds, but also make sure we finish our job and make sure every person in the world has access to the internet and all that it brings. We want to help in all the things we do."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading