Zuckerberg's Facebook launches TIP with Nokia, SK, DT and others to 'accelerate' 5G network designs

BARCELONA, Spain -- Facebook used the opening day of Mobile World Congress here to introduce the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), an ambitious, engineering-centric effort to bring mobile tech companies together to develop new technologies "and reimagine traditional approaches to building and deploying" networks.

The effort is modeled on the company's Open Compute Project, which focused on data-center storage and networking equipment and -- according to Bloomberg -- allowed Facebook and its allies "to save billions in infrastructure costs." TIP members will collaborate to contribute designs of hardware and software for access, backhaul, core management and more, and will use an open source platform to foster collaboration and spur innovation.

"In what is a traditionally closed system, component pieces will be unbundled, affording operators more flexibility in building networks," Facebook said in a prepared announcement. "This will result in significant gains in cost and operational efficiency for both rural and urban deployments. As the effort progresses, TIP members will work together to accelerate development of technologies like 5G that will pave the way for better connectivity and richer services."

"We can make it more efficient" to develop and deploy new network technologies, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his keynote presentation today. "Hopefully we can take out a bunch of the costs from our mobile operator partners, and if that goes well maybe that will get passed on to the consumer in the form of cheaper data plans."

Nokia and Intel have already signed on to the project and will work with Facebook to produce initial designs. Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom are also TIP members and will be among the first carriers to use the technologies that the group initially produces.

Notably absent from TIP's initial members are the world's two largest telco vendors -- namely Ericsson and Huawei -- as well as Cisco and Juniper Networks. U.S. operators like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T are also conspicuous in their absence. 

The emergence of TIP illustrates the heightening tension between some major legacy companies in mobile and fixed-line networks and a new generation of infrastructure companies that often view cellular as simply another piece of the connectivity puzzle.     

For more:
- see this Facebook press release

Related articles
MoffettNathanson: Facebook apps surge in Q4 while Periscope drives Twitter downloads
Facebook planning dedicated video site that could challenge AT&T, Verizon's Go90