At its inaugural Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Summit event at company headquarters November 1, Facebook announced the development of Voyager, a new data center networking hardware [also known as a ‘transponder,’] which takes packets from switches and routers and gets them ready to be sent out over fiber optic cables.
Facebook intends to share the design for the device under the recently established Telecom Infra Project.
Telzio employs this type of technology with their VoIP telephony system.
Differing from the legacy phone systems of the last century — instead of electronic connections and signals switching back and forth between electrical circuits — Internet telephony sends digital data as packets over the Internet.
Collaboratively, Facebook, Telzio and Deutsche Telekom will be collaborating with the Telecom Infra Project and this innovative new ‘open’ approach for switching, routing and transport.
Open Source has been around for some time now. While software developers can take credit for introducing this business model to the Internet, the sharing of technological data dates as far back as the early 1900’s. Henry Ford introduced a new way of cooperating with competitors with other auto companies, and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association formed in 1911 set the guidelines.
This association pioneered the concept of cross-licensing agreement among all US auto manufacturers. While each company could develop technology and file patents of their own, the associations’ ‘joint agreement’ was shared openly and collaboratively. By the time the US entered World War II, 92 Ford patents and 515 patents from other companies were being shared, without any exchange of money (or lawsuits).
At the Summit
Flash forward 100 years, three hundred members including Telzio and Facebook attended the first-ever Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Summit to discuss and brainstorm the progress they’ve made in launching a similar initiative in the 21st Century.
During the event, TIP announced the first location for the upcoming TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centers which will incubate global talent and accelerate product development.
The new Center will welcome mentors, hands-on sessions with industry experts, and office space where developers can work collaboratively.
A TIP spokesperson notes:
Our goal is to create and foster a self-sustaining ecosystem that delivers new, innovative, agile and deployable infrastructure solutions to operators quickly and seamlessly.
Facebook’s Voyager is the industry’s first white-box transponder and IP/MPLS routing solution. Voyager’s design will be available to the TIP community to fulfill their goal of disaggregating hardware and software components of the network stack.
Peter Schrøder, CEO of Telzio, states:
The gamechanger is that Facebook is contributing the Voyager to the Telecom Infra Project. All the blueprints for the hardware and software will be open source, which means that everyone can work on improving it.
More and more people are connecting to the Internet every day, and as new services like video and VR become more popular, those people are using more and more bandwidth. These two factors are driving the need for more scalable and cost-effective infrastructure that Voyager can provide.
Schrøder goes on to say:
The problem today is that telecom and Internet infrastructure is closed off by proprietary technology and patents, but with the growth of the Internet, we need to invent better ways to work together to keep up with the change.
Voyager has already being successfully tested with their TIP members Equinix and MTN.
Dissimilar to Facebook, Telzio, on the other hand will not deploying any hardware themselves. They are more invested in the software part of TIP – contributing open source software and ideology/brainstorming on how to optimize interconnection between telcos and other communication providers.
Everybody has to start working together on building open standards that everyone can leverage, in both hardware and software – from the cell phone masts to the way phone calls are carried out. The result will be better speeds and better technology for everyone.”
The open approach to development of optical packet systems by Facebook, Telzio, and other contributors to the Telecom Infra Project will allow for faster time to market and a lower barrier of entry for new technologies, ultimately helping these three entities to move quicker toward a more open and connected world.
Schrøder best sums it up when he asserts that:
TIP is a massive project that involves all aspects of communication in the future.
Stay tuned for further updates in 2017.
Ron is a business and tech writer for Telzio's blog. Previously the Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Marriott International's Caribbean and Mexico division, Ron is the published author of Crude Behavior, Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree and the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.