Bringing 5G to the world is an enormous task and hugely challenging, but it also presents some incredible opportunities for mobile operators and other companies in the space.
It’s a rare occasion where entirely new networks will be required, which is obviously a lot of work, but gives companies the chance to change the way they roll their networks out, potentially making them far more affordable, flexible and future-proofed than current networks.
The Telecom Infra Project has been created with that in mind. Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is the Telecom Infra Project?
The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is an engineering-focused initiative which aims to reimagine the ways of building and deploying telecom network infrastructure and drive the development of next-generation open components.
The core goal of the project is to create simple, efficient and flexible technologies that will be relevant to both networks now and in the future.
So it’s looking at engineering problems presented by rolling out large-scale networks and aiming to solve them for the networks that 5G will run on.
However, there are many technologies and challenges associated with this and the Telecom Infra Project recognises that no single company can solve them on its own. So it’s an open project where operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators and other technology companies can work together to develop solutions. It is, in short, an open approach to global networks.
What are its focuses?
The Telecom Infra Project is initially going to separate the hardware and software components of network architecture which are usually bundled together, with the goal of increasing efficiency and designing new solutions.
From there it’s focussed on three initial areas: access, backhaul, and core and management. Each of these network segments will have its own project groups working on it and these will leverage the engineering and operational expertise of each member.
Several TIP members have already agreed to contribute an initial set of reference designs focusing on access. These planned contributions include a reference design for a network-in-a-box–compatible hardware platform and accompanying software reference code, that includes both traditional access functionality as well as services typically found in the central data centre. That will help simplify the network architecture and reduce cost.
Facebook has an initial contribution planned too, specifically a software solution to address challenges in wireless backhaul for an L3 mesh network, focusing on scalability, fast convergence, ease of configuration, and extensibility.
Flexibility will be key in everything TIP does though. The goal is to allow mobile network systems to evolve without having to start over- in other words the opposite of what’s had to happen to roll out 5G.
This is especially important as networks are struggling to scale up fast enough to keep up with the growing demands for data, so by making the infrastructure more flexible it will be faster and more affordable to evolve and improve it.
What companies are involved?
Facebook founded the Telecom Infra Project and numerous other companies are already part of it. These include T-Mobile, EE, Intel, Nokia, SK Telecom and many others.
And this is just the beginning. TIP is open to anyone in the industry and the more companies that join the more effective it can be, as it’s designed to draw expertise from all members’ experiences.
Each team will contribute to the areas it knows the most about, while learning from others so that together they can collaborate and build better, faster, more efficient systems.