Facebook Building New Routing System for Gigabit Wireless

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Facebook says that a lack of flexibility in open source solutions have prompted the company to build its own, new routing system at the core of its plans to deploy gigabit wireless service. Facebook recently unveiled its new “Terragraph” system, which the company dubs a “multi-node wireless system focused on bringing high-speed internet connectivity to dense urban areas.” The system is currently being tested at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, and will be expanded into a real-world deployment in San Jose, California later on this year.

Alongside Terragraph Facebook also unveiled something it’s calling “Project Aries,” a new 96-antenna base station designed to make “incredibly efficient usage of spectrum and energy,” supporting 24 streams simultaneously over the same radio spectrum.

This week the company announced that it’s also cooking up a new software routing technology dubbed Open/R it claims will tie all of these efforts together, and help prototype and deploy new network applications much more quickly than with the industry s standard development process. According to Facebook, Open/R was originally designed as a shortest-path routing system to power Terragraph, but has since been adapted for use with other parts of Facebook’s networking infrastructure.

Whereas many routing protocols are about basic connectivity in a fixed and static wired network, Facebook says Open/R helps the company handle more complicated and varying rate conditions, such as the weather and obstruction issues that have traditionally plagued the kind of millimeter wave technologies Facebook is exploring (alongside companies like Starry and Google).

“With Terragraph and Open/R, we can produce cost-effective solutions and iterate more quickly, which in turn will help us improve the speed, efficiency, and quality of internet connectivity around the world,” says Facebook of the software platform. “We are continuing to iterate on these technologies with the ultimate goal of contributing them to the open source community and to the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) for use in the broader ecosystem.”

Those interested can read more about Facebook’s Open/R routing platform here. Again, we’ll have a fuller sense of the gigabit wireless technology Facebook’s building when it sees its real-world debut in San Jose sometime later in 2016.


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