Facebook's TIP & Telcos Upend Old Operational Models

Terragraph and TEAC
One effort that echoes this changing relationship is in the development of Facebook's Terragraph millimeter-wave technology, which is in field trials by operator partners, and can be utilized in urban environments that require higher bandwidths. Deutsche Telekom and Telenor will be testing the technology in Budapest and Kuala Lumpur, respectively; Parikh says this type of collaboration between Facebook and operators would have been more difficult prior to the establishment of more open collaborations via TIP.

"Now they're able to bring our AI, computer vision and data science expertise along with their performance network management expertise, combine that, and if we could do a network plan for something like Terragraph in hours or days that's a substantial win for the operators."

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In addition to changing operators' relationships with Facebook, TIP also provides new avenues for operators to collaborate with vendors. Established about a year ago, the TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Center (TEAC) program addresses operators' concerns that venture capitalist firms weren't investing in startups focused on "building technology destined for the telco industry directly," says Parikh.

"Because it's the operators leading the coordination and the assembly of the center itself, they have a relationship with the startups so the startups are able to develop their technology, and most importantly, deploy it in the operator network so there's this tight, immediate feedback and use case-driven co-development that happens."

Through TEAC, service providers work with VCs and startups to identify and solve issues telcos or traditional vendors weren't able to tackle themselves, he adds. SK Telecom was the first operator to start a TEAC, in Seoul, followed by BT in the UK, Orange in Paris, and most recently Deutsche Telekom, which will launch TEAC Germany in Berlin. Parikh says TEAC introduces a shared incentive model where startups can deploy their equipment faster and telcos have more direct input in the development of that technology.

"TIP kicked off two years ago to bring together the broader base of operators and other technology companies to try to organize and drive the innovation and to solve these problems faster … TIP is 500 people and 11 working groups -- not bad for two years of work," says Parikh.

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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