Facebook just announced 2 new connectivity projects during its F8 developer conference: Terragraph & Project ARIES. Both these projects use terrestrial antennas in different techniques to cover urban and rural areas. Terragraph uses “street furniture” like lightpoles with antennas to cover cities in Wi-Fi. It merges FB’s knowledge of software-defined networks and the WiGig standard – the newest Wi-Fi standard which can deal with 7 Gbit/s transmission rates under the 60 GHz (unlicensed) frequency band. The problem with WiGig – which is basically Wi-Fi on steroids – is that it can’t penetrate walls but can travel a good 250 metres. They’ll run the pilot project for it in San Jose later in the year.
Now on to ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum) which is basically 4G on steroids. ARIES is an array of hundreds of antennas which beam connectivity into the distance. It uses several transmitters to move from multiple input, multiple output (MIMO). Currently, its test platform uses 96 antennas which can support 24 devices simultaneously with 10x spectral and energy efficiency gains over traditional 4G systems