Facebook first announced Terragraph in 2016, introducing it in downtown San Jose. They have now launched two worldwide trials – in Hungary and Malaysia, delivering low-cost gigabit broadband wirelessly.
Here is everything you need to know about the Terragraph wireless technology, and why it matters!
What Is Terragraph?
Terragraph is a millimetre-wave wireless technology that uses the 60 GHz spectrum to deliver low-cost, high-speed internet connectivity to dense urban areas. Think of it as a cheap, wireless alternative to expensive fibre-optic broadband.
Designed to provide high-speed street level coverage, every Terragraph node has a highly-directional phase array antenna that is steerable. The 60 GHz signal has a limited range, so the nodes are placed at 200 to 250 meter intervals.
Coupled with its steerable antennas, having multiple nodes in an area allow the network to route and steer around interference typically found in dense urban environments. It also has a mesh network design, which allows it to automatically deliver data using the most efficient route.
The Terragraph technology is attractive to city planners because the unique signal-absorbing nature of the 60 GHz band limits interference to other wireless systems. It is also cheap to implement because it uses off-the-shelf WiGig components, and the 60 GHz spectrum is unlicensed.
Another advantage is the unobtrusive nature of its nodes – they are small and can be installed on existing lighting and traffic light poles. This greatly eases installation, and lowers costs, while multiple nodes to be installed without affecting the landscape.
How Is Terragraph Superior?
Terragraph isn’t exactly a “superior” solution that will replace all other infrastructure. Instead, it’s designed to make it easier to deliver gigabit broadband in dense urban areas.
It is cheaper and offers more bandwidth than cellular data networks. And while optical fibre networks can be faster, they are more expensive and more difficult (and thus slower) to deploy.
Terragraph Core Benefits
Terragraph promises to deliver these core benefits over alternative network solutions :
Unlimited Spectrum – It uses the V-band spectrum at 60 GHz, which allows wireless transfers at multi-gigabit speeds.
Lower Cost – When combined with existing fibre infrastructure, it offers a lower-cost solution for Fixed Wireless Access.
Faster Time To Market – It is faster to deploy than any wired service, because it does not require securing costly Right of Way permissions.
Seamless Deployment – Unlike cell towers, Terragraph nodes are very small and discreet. They can be mounted onto existing street furniture and poles, or even buildings.
Ubiquitous Coverage – It can extend the existing fibre network wirelessly throughout a city, and uniformly deliver gigabit speeds in difficult-to-reach neighbourhoods.
How Fast Is Terragraph?
At the Penang trial launch, YTL Communications and Facebook demonstrated that it can deliver a download speed in excess of 1.3 Gbps, with an upload speed of over 1.7 Gbps. The ping time was a low 13 ms.
That is almost 45X faster than the future minimum broadband standard (as revealed by Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Gobind Singh Deo). In fact, at those speeds, you can download a 40 GB Blu-ray movie in just 4 minutes, or upload it in just over 3 minutes!
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