Facebook is collaborating with Qualcomm in an attempt to bring high-speed internet to cities, where persistent network congestion is unfortunately commonplace.
Facebook plans to use Terragraph, its millimeter-wavelength, 60GHz wireless system that was unveiled in 2016. This technology can blast internet through buildings in urban areas, and it's supposedly not vulnerable to network congestion unlike traditional connections.
Facebook, Qualcomm Bring Terragraph To Cities
As part of the collaboration, Qualcomm will put Terragraph in its chipsets, which could pave the way for manufacturers to build 60GHz broadcast equipment. The companies plan to begin trials as soon as 2019. It's not clear where, but previous reports have suggested trials will take place in San Jose, California.
"Working with leading operators and manufacturers, this terrestrial connectivity system aims to improve the speed, efficiency and quality of internet connectivity around the world at only a fraction of the cost of fiber deployments," Qualcomm said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Qualcomm describes the notional technology as a solution for both urban and rural areas that have shoddy Wi-Fi connections in certain regions.
Despite the field test planned for 2019, it's not clear when Terragraph will officially go live. Facebook has yet to offer more details.
For now, these are the sure things: Facebook and Qualcomm's tech will be based on the 802.11ay WLAN standard, which uses 60GHz frequency and offers transmission rates up to 20 to 40 Gbps over 300 to 500 meter distances, as Engadget notes. Both companies will tweak the technology to include improvements such as massive antenna arrays, channel bonding, time-synchronized nodes, and TDMA protocols. In the end, what these nerdy terms all mean is that Facebook and Qualcomm's internet will be able to overcome obstacles commonly found in urban settings, accommodate more customers, and reduce upfront costs.
"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," said Facebook's VP of connectivity Yael Maguire.
In somewhat related news, Qualcomm has also announced that it's producing 5G chipsets for phone manufacturers and carriers, and the company is already working with early access partners. There's no word on which carriers it's referring to, but given its past relationships with Nokia and Samsung, it's highly likely that they could be among them. Samples will become available next year, which indicates the chip is still pretty early in development. Don't expect a product release anytime soon.