Networks: the TIP of Facebook's iceberg

Earlier this year, Facebook gave us a TIP (Telecom Infra Project*) about what could come next for them at the infrastructure level. Most members of the project, starting with Intel, Nokia, SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, are also on board of Facebook's much wider Open Compute Project, which also claims top coopetitor Google.

Naturally, Menlo Park wants a front seat for next gen network premieres - typically, early bird SKT is expected to be the first on 5G. But recent announcements*** at the F8 days confirm that the company intends to reach deeper into the value chain to secure and strenghten its leadership, particularly where innovation in network performance can prevent bottlenecks in these pervasive big data / heavy content times.

Terragraph (WiGig WiFi on 60 GHz) proposes ultra efficient W-LAN coverage for dense urban areas. You only need a station every 200 to 250 m. Of course it doesn't provide seamless handover, but a 200 m radius allows you more mobility than your typical hotspot.

Project ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum - MIMO) is more into W-WAN for rural areas. It combines 96 antennas to manage 24 simultaneous data streams, and aims at over 100 bps / Hz compared to 71 in early trials.

Here too, for a fraction of the price of a standard infra...
Could Facebook become a non-2-to-5G MNO, or a player in the game of standards? Not so fast. But an even more competitive value aggregator, certainly.

mot-bile 2016

* telecominfraproject.com
** opencompute.org 
*** "Introducing Facebook's new terrestrial connectivity systems — Terragraph and Project ARIES" (Facebook 20160414) 


And Then There Were Three - Beyond Iliad's Odyssey

L'Express reported* that Xavier Niel (Iliad / Free) met with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, officially to check which crumbs could fall on his lap following the O2-3UK merger.

They probably talked a lot about another 4-to-3-player story, the purchase of Bouygues Telecom by Orange, which was collapsing at that very moment. Martin Bouygues precisely blamed Niel and Free for demanding too big a share of the Bouygtel pie expected to be splitted among Orange, Free, and SFR**.

Note that L'Express happens to belong to Altice and Patrick Drahi, who happens to own SFR, and, reportedly, to hate Niel's considerable guts ever since he took Michael Boukobza back from him. Note also that Drahi is making the news in both senses of the expression: his name appears in the Panama Papers, and that's unlikely to quiet the jitters about his burgeoning EUR 50 bn debt (for instance, to remain UK-wise, Drahi's Numericable paid a fortune to get the Premiere League rights for France, beating both Canal+ and BeIN Sport).

Now beyond Niel, Drahi, and Bouygues, who's France's key fourth player? France Telecom's Stephane Richard's not much of a divisive character.

Without naming names, Martin Bouygues mentions troubling positions from the government, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were conflict of interests between President Francois Hollande, who wants to run again in 2017, and his Minister Emmanuel Macron, who also nurtures plans for the presidential elections. 

There was a lot to gain politically from the new deal in the French mobile market, particularly since it involves key players in the media: Drahi bought L'Express-Roularta and BFMTV, Niel owns Le Monde, and Bouygues TF1 and LCI. And let's not forget Vincent Bollore: if his Vivendi sold SFR to Altice, he still calls most of the shots, and this time, he might not bet everything on Sarkozy...

mot-bile 2016

* "Angleterre: Xavier Niel a rencontré la commissaire européenne à la concurrence" (L'Express - 20160401)
** "Martin Bouygues : «Pourquoi je n'ai pas vendu Bouygues Telecom à Orange»" (Le Figaro - 20160403)

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