Facebook’s TIP welcomes new members, but AT&T, Verizon not among them

Facebook (Pixabay)

Facebook held the first Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Summit in Menlo Park, California, this week and welcomed new members including Bell Canada, du (EITC), NBN, Orange, Telia, Telstra, Accenture, Amdocs, Canonical, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Toyota InfoTechnology Center, among others. Not among the existing 300+ members: Verizon and AT&T.

U.S. operators are welcome to join the effort, but so far, they haven’t been jumping on board. That said, AT&T and Verizon are part of the Open Compute Project (OCP) telco project group, and TIP is likely in discussions with an array of companies that could join the effort at any time. TIP was launched earlier this year as a way for players to "develop new technologies and rethink approaches to deploying network architecture."

RELATED: Verizon, T-Mo, Sprint still not jumping into Facebook's TIP

Indeed, the effort is well on its way to developing those new approaches. This week, TIP Chairman Alex Jinsung Choi, CTO of SK Telecom, shared some of the progress the group has made, including the first location for the upcoming TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centers, which will incubate local talent around the world and accelerate product development. The first center, sponsored by SK Telecom and Facebook, will be established in Seoul in early 2017; expectations call for expanding to other parts of the world soon after.

In addition, Facebook is making OpenCellular designs and schematics fully open source within TIP as part of efforts to provide wireless access in remote areas of the world. That includes all the files for OpenCellular, including schematic, layout, CAD files, specs and protocol.

Facebook announced OpenCellular in July with the goal of inspiring the industry to build open source and cost-effective wireless access solutions to improve connectivity in remote areas of the world. Since then, it’s been working with operators to test a small number of 2G units.

Facebook also has a number of other contributions it’s making, including Voyager, a networking solution for Open Packet DWDM networks that Facebook believes is the industry’s first “white box” transponder and routing solution. It’s also opening up the design to the TIP Community via the Backhaul: Open Optical Packet Transport project. 

“We have been working with partners to successfully test in the market and are excited about the ecosystem that has already come together around Voyager as part of TIP,” Jay Parikh, global head of Engineering and Infrastructure at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

Another key element that aims to address the cultural transformations that are taking place: The People and Process project group within TIP is launching in order to develop and share cultural and process transformation best practices that can improve operators’ key metrics. That group will be co-chaired by Bell Canada and Facebook. Members of the group include: Accenture, Agilitrix, Bell Canada, Deloitte, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, NBN, SK Telecom, Tata Communications, Telefonica and Telstra.

RELATED: Facebook's Parikh: Telecom Infra Project 'getting off the ground now' with more than 100 members

Parikh told FierceWireless last summer that the group had made some significant progress, officially creating a board and picking leads for working groups. TIP launched at Mobile World Congress 2016 with support from Nokia, SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Intel and others, and in May the company announced the addition of Axiata Digital, Indosat, MTN Group, Telefonica, Vodafone, Acacia, ADVA, BlueStream, Broadcom, Coriant, Deloitte, Juniper Networks and Lumentum. 

OCP grew out of a desire by a small team of Facebook engineers to tackle the challenges around how to scale computing infrastructure in the most efficient and economical way possible. One of the early tangible results was a data center built in Prineville, Oregon, that uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook's existing facilities, while costing 24 percent less.