Back at its 2016 developer conference, Facebook announced a new wireless system for deploying high-speed internet to dense urban areas: Terragraph. Now, the social network has announced it is joining forces with Qualcomm to use the chip maker’s 60GHz technology in field trials starting next year.
Qualcomm’s upcoming chipsets will feature integrated Terragraph tech, thereby allowing manufacturers to build equipment that utilizes the unlicensed 60GHz spectrum, which will reduce congestion and improve connections and speeds.
The technology is based on the 802.11ay WLAN standard, the successor to 802.11ad. It allows transmission rates of 20 to 30Gbps and a range of 33 to 100 feet using the unclogged 60GHz millimeter wave spectrum band. Qualcomm has optimized this with TDMA-based protocol, time synchronized nodes, channel bonding, and massive antenna arrays. The enhancements will help it get past large urban obstacles, reach more users, reduce production costs, and improve time to market.
The technology's short distances mean a number of nodes would need to be installed around a neighborhood on street-level items such as lamp posts or the sides of buildings, communicating with each other using a mesh network.
“Terragraph cloud controller and TDMA architecture coupled with Qualcomm Technologies solution’s 10 Gbps link rate, low power consumption and early interference mitigation techniques will help make gigabit connectivity a reality,” said Irvind Ghai, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.
The companies didn’t reveal where the trials would take place, though Facebook in 2016 did say Terragraph would be tested in San Jose. In February this year, it said that field tests would take place in Budapest, Hungary, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Precisely when in 2019 they will take place is also unknown, but trials are expected to begin sometime during the middle of next year.
“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 Yael Maguire, vice president of connectivity for Facebook, in a statement.