On 16 October, Access Partnership attended the third annual Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Summit. Founded by Facebook, TIP is an engineering-focused initiative, launched in 2016, and currently driving the development of next-generation networks. Members include some of the leading mobile operators, solution providers, and vendors, such as T-Mobile, Deutsche Telecom, Vodafone, EE, and Nokia.
The event kicked off with Axel Clauberg, VP Innovation at Deutsche Telekom and Attilio Zani, Executive Director of TIP, who introduced TIP’s recent efforts to encourage innovation:
- TIP Project Groups, currently designing a more efficient Radio Access Network (RAN) for various use cases, such as OpenRAN, by migrating to a software-centric, general purpose processor RAN, and vRAN Fronthaul, thereby enabling RAN virtualisation where fibre is unavailable.
- TIP Labs, responsible for testing prototypes and deploying new technologies.
- TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centres, the start-up acceleration program present in the UK, Germany, France, and South Korea.
Next on stage, Facebook’s Jay Parikh, Head of Engineering and Infrastructure, and Axios’s Ina Fried discussed the potential of cross-industry partnerships to enable high-quality global connectivity. For Parikh, “there’s no one technology that will solve all connectivity problems, we have to build an ecosystem around each solution and scale it”. Facebook, in partnership with telecom providers, recently introduced its new terrestrial connectivity system: Terragraph, a 60GHz multi-node wireless system focused on bringing high speed connectivity to dense urban areas, at a fraction of the cost of fibre. The technology is being tested in Hungary, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Vodafone and Telefonica executives Yago Tenorio and David del Val Latorre shared the stage to discuss their joint OpenRAN request for information (RFI) results and announced leading candidates to produce interoperable RAN solutions. The trial in rural Peru provided connectivity in rural areas in a sustainable and less costly way. Tenorio and Latorre spoke of the mutual learning points from their collaboration. By leveraging partnerships, vendors enable end-to-end (e2e) platforms and deployment capability, address roadmap shortfalls, and accelerate legacy compliance. By driving industry engagement, operators can stimulate growth and success cases, focus on Operations & Maintenance, create a new value chain, and develop open and reusable interfaces.
The event continued with appearances from industry players invested in finding experimental solutions to address the lack of connectivity in remote areas. MTN’s recently launched its CHASE strategy (coverage, handsets, service bundling, education). It will provide affordable devices and re-use 2G coverage to offer data services in Africa. MTN executive Babak Fouladi noted only one third of the 223 million mobile customers in Africa are data users and their strategy will provide communication and facilitate basic access to education, healthcare, and banking services.
Facebook, Telefonica, Mayutel and other partners launched the Internet Para Todos (Internet for everyone) initiative to address similar challenges in Latin America, particularly the complex geography, lack of affordability, and population dispersion. They successfully connected 700 rural towns in Peru and intend to expand in the rest of the continent. The pilot demonstrated the maturity of the technologies — such as RAN and microwave — to provide cost-effective connectivity in low-density areas.
The event concluded with a panel on the investment trends in telecom infrastructures, including 5G, connecting the unconnected, NFV, blockchain, AI, IOT, and deep tech. The discussion ended with a few words of wisdom directed at entrepreneur, most notably:
- Always start with the problem that you want to solve, rather than the product you want to create.
- Be prepared to face objections: every dollar invested in you is a dollar taken from someone else’s idea.
- Always show progress and learnings to investors, even if they may seem marginal at the time.
Author: Ivan Ivanov, Marketing Manager, Access Partnership