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

Announced earlier this year, Facebook's Telecom Infra Project (TIP) was launched as a way for players to "develop new technologies and rethink approaches to deploying network architecture." And Facebook's Jay Parikh said that the group has made some significant progress during the past few months.

"I think we've signed up a lot more people than what we had when we announced it," Jay Parikh, Facebook's head of engineering and infrastructure, told FierceWireless. Parikh estimated TIP now counts roughly 120-140 member companies.

"We've officially created the board, they've met. We have some leads picked out for the working groups," he said, pointing to the recent creation of TIP's access, backhaul and core networking groups. "That's really great because now we can actually start to get people who are interested in the overall parts of the overall telecom infrastructure focused on these difference segments and start to solve these problems and set what the objectives are, from a technology perspective, from a business model perspective."

Added Parikh: "That's all kind of getting off the ground now," he said. "We're getting going."

Launched during the Mobile World Congress trade show earlier this year, TIP is an engineering-focused initiative geared toward re-imagining the traditional approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure. It was also lauded as part of an effort to "accelerate" 5G network designs.

Similar to Facebook's Open Computing Project for data centers, TIP is also Facebook's mechanism to release its research into wireless technology to the wider wireless industry, including the Aries, Terragraph and Aquila projects Facebook has announced recently through its Connectivity Lab.

"We're very, very firm believers – we've demonstrated this time and time again – that working on technology, innovating in the open like this, is the way to help accelerate solving a problem in the world," Parikh said. "This is just the next chapter in the book, in terms of 'open will win' here."

TIP launched 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. However, major U.S. operators are still conspicuous in their absence from the list of TIP member companies. When asked about TIP at the MWC show, Verizon's Adam Koeppe said: "We'll take a look at TIP when it's a little more mature."

But there is precedent for cooperation between Facebook and major U.S. operators: In January, AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, EE and SK Telecom joined Facebook's Open Compute Project (OCP).

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