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Facebook's quest for Internet is coming back to Earth with two wireless projects

Stephen Lawson | April 14, 2016
The company is pioneering land-based systems in addition to connectivity from the sky.

The array of 96 antennas in the Aries base station uses a technology called massive MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) that’s expected to play a big role in future 5G networks. Facebook thinks what it’s developed here could become part of the standard.

MIMO, using multiple antennas to form more than one stream of data through the air, has been used to boost the performance of Wi-Fi and cellular for a few years now.

Massive MIMO involves even more antennas and streams. Among other things, it could help networks overcome the limitations of millimeter-wave frequencies so they can use new, wide bands of spectrum. With Aries, Facebook believes it’s set a record for number of antennas and efficient use of spectrum in massive MIMO.

Facebook doesn’t plan to build Terragraph or Aries networks itself but will make these technologies available through the Telecom Infra Project, formed in February and modeled after the company’s Open Compute Project. It now has more than 300 members, including Nokia, Intel and SK Telecom.

 

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