The Stack Archive

Top telcos join Facebook open source hardware project

Wed 27 Jan 2016

Telecom networking

A new wave of communications companies including AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom and South Korea’s SK Telecom, has joined Facebook’s non-profit Open Compute Project (OCP), as the movement seeks to share innovative hardware designs and drive down costs in the telecom arena.

Tech giants such as Intel, Microsoft and Rackspace already participate in the project, collaborating on server, network and storage design. Now, a sub-section focused entirely on telecom requirements has been set up to look into servers and networking efficiency in the field.

“Everyone is looking for that same synergy and agility […] The learning and the sharing will go both ways,” commented Gagan Puranik, director of SDN/NFV architecture planning at Verizon, which has recently joined the OCP. He added that the collaborative approach would help Verizon get new advances into production faster, such as 5G technology.

As one of the largest hardware buyers, telcos will provide a significant new market for the project, alongside its successful data centre efforts.

Many argue that this new push will undermine traditional suppliers such as Cisco, Juniper and HP, as the telecom industry realises that their value continues to fade. Such firms have provided a one-stop shopping model, which is beginning to be threatened by this new disruptive, open supply chain trend.

AT&T has long discussed its aim of virtualising 75% of its network by 2020, and the move to join OCP is an encouraging step in this direction. Reports suggest the global telco giant has already developed its own networking kit, and last year it placed some of these designs on the Open Compute Project – despite not being an official member at the time.

For Facebook the introduction of leading telecom providers to the Open Compute project offers an opportunity to explore connectivity worldwide, through the massive global networks operated by the firms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg actively promotes the internet as a powerful tool for social and economic progress. The social network continues to call for more international telcos to partner with its Internet.org initiative to boost connectivity and accessibility to the digital economy in poor, rural locations.

“When people have access to basic internet services in areas like jobs, health and education, they can change lives and communities,” said Zuckerberg.

Facebook’s head of architecture Jason Taylor reiterated this goal: “We’ve been focusing a hell of a lot on connecting the world […] and that’s not something we’re going to do alone.”


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