Facebook’s Terragraph technology to get chipsets from Qualcomm

Facebook Terragraph
Facebook's Terragraph technology supports broadband connectivity through a network based on millimeter wave wireless backhaul. (Facebook)

Qualcomm Technologies is on board with Facebook’s Terragraph project and will be integrating its QCA6438 and QCA6428 family of pre-802.11ay chipsets with Facebook’s technology.

Terragraph was announced about two years ago and has made remarkable progress with Facebook’s backing and participation by the likes of Deutsche Telekom and Nokia. The collaboration with Qualcomm will enable manufacturers to build 60 GHz millimeter wave solutions using the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum and provide Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).

The companies expect to begin trials of the Qualcomm-designed solution in mid-2019.

“We’re excited to work with Qualcomm to advance the adoption of pre-802.11ay and 802.11ad 60 GHz technologies and build a robust ecosystem of interoperable solutions based on Terragraph,” said Yael Maguire, VP of Connectivity at Facebook, in a statement. “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.”

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Terragraph uses the 60 GHz band for bringing high-speed internet connectivity to dense urban areas; a trial network is already set up in San Jose, California. The idea is to deliver fiber-like connectivity where it’s needed. Deutsche Telekom is actively evaluating use cases across Europe for the technology and plans to deploy a Terragraph field trial in the Budapest area (via its subsidiary Magyar Telekom). Telenor has also announced a trial in Kuala Lumpur.

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Qualcomm worked with Facebook on a number of things for the Terragraph platform to make it ideal for the specific implementations it’s trying to deliver. Some of those things include time synchronization of the nodes, channel bonding and massive antenna array, according to Jesse Burke, marketing staff manager, Connectivity at Qualcomm Technologies.

“I think we’re seeing a lot more excitement around using millimeter wave, whether it be unlicensed 60 GHz or 5G for these next-generation experiences because of the capabilities for ridiculously fast speeds and ultra-low latency, which are going to be required for a lot of these next-generation user experiences,” Caleb Banke, marketing senior manager, Connectivity, Qualcomm Technologies, told FierceWirelessTech.

There could be some overlap between IEEE 802.11 technologies and 3GPP 5G standards, but “I think both will progress in parallel,” he said, and both will be required to meet next-gen requirements.

Burke agreed, noting that there are parts of the world just ramping up for 4G. “We obviously expect 5G to become the global standard and that will be sooner rather than later,” he said, but there are scenarios where the 60 GHz technology will be ideal.