By Jay Parikh, Global Head of Engineering and Infrastructure

Today we announced the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), an engineering-focused initiative that is bringing operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, and other technology companies together to collaborate on the development of new technologies and reimagine traditional approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure.

Every day, more people and more devices around the world are coming online, and it’s becoming easier to share data-intensive experiences like video and virtual reality. Scaling traditional telecom infrastructure to meet this global data challenge is not moving as fast as people need it to. We know there isn’t a single solution for this, and no one company can tackle the problem alone. Driving a faster pace of innovation in telecom infrastructure is necessary to meet these new technology challenges and to unlock new opportunities for everyone in the ecosystem.

We know from our experience with the Open Compute Project that the best way to accelerate the pace of innovation is for companies to collaborate and to work in the open. To kick-start this work, TIP members such as Facebook, Intel, and Nokia have pledged to contribute an initial suite of reference designs, while other members such as operators Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom will help define and deploy the technology as it fits their needs.

TIP members will work together to contribute designs in three areas — access, backhaul, and core and management — applying the Open Compute Project models of openness and disaggregation as methods of spurring innovation. In what is a traditionally closed system, component pieces will be unbundled, affording operators more flexibility in building networks. 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.

To illustrate the advantages of testing new approaches to connectivity, Facebook, in collaboration with Globe, recently launched a pilot deployment based on TIP principles to connect a small village in the Philippines that previously did not have cellular coverage. In addition, EE is planning to work as part of TIP to pilot a community-run 4G coverage solution that can withstand the challenges presented by the remote environment of the Scottish Highlands to connect unconnected communities. Testing new technologies and approaches and sharing what we learn with the rest of the industry will enable operators to adopt new models with full confidence that they will be sustainable.

Working to enable operators and the broader telecom industry to be more flexible, innovative, and efficient is important for expanding connectivity. For Facebook, TIP is a new investment that ties into our other connectivity efforts already under way through

We’re excited to be working with the companies that have already joined TIP and are looking forward to more joining in the future — everyone in the industry is welcome. To learn more about TIP and how to participate, go to