Facebook’s TIP touts momentum, new leadership and white box switch that cuts costs by 60%

Facebook's Hans-Juergen Schmidtke discusses the company's TIP effort.

AUSTIN, Texas—A top Facebook executive said the company’s Telecom Infra Project continues to gain steam in the telecommunications industry, and that membership in the organization now tops 450 companies. Perhaps more importantly, Facebook’s Hans-Juergen Schmidtke said the group now counts a number of network operators as members, and that it has made significant progress in developing a white box switch, router and transport solution, which the group touted as “the industry’s first.”

“It’s really amazing how quickly this membership grows,” Schmidtke said here during a keynote presentation at the BCE trade conference.

During his presentation, Schmidtke detailed the progress TIP has made in developing its white box, dubbed Voyager. He said Voyager has been fully submitted to TIP, and that the organization has conducted field trials of the box with Equinix, Telia and MTN that “have been successful with very good results.”

Specifically, Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi said the company recorded “up to 60% cost savings per 100 Gbps using Voyager.”

“Furthermore, we believe that the new innovation based on open-source approach will be critical in building Equinix’s next-generation interconnection,” Tarazi said in a post on the TIP site.

Separately, TIP said it recently hired Leland Lai as its new executive director. Leland previously worked for the GSMA, the mobile industry’s leading global trade association, where he led the Mobile World Congress Shanghai trade show. “Leland brings both operator and vendor perspectives to TIP, with previous experience at Hutchison Telecom, 3Com Corporation, Cortelco Puerto Rico and Terayon (acquired by Motorola),” the group said.

Separately, Facebook’s Schmidtke said the TIP now operates three “ecosystem acceleration centers,” one in Seoul, South Korea, with SK Telecom, one in the U.K. with BT and one in Paris with Orange. Schmidtke noted that the one in the U.K. drew investments totaling $170 million from the likes of Downing Ventures and Atlantic Bridge.

“Startups are not being formed” in the telecom industry, Schmidtke said while explaining the need for the acceleration centers. “We think we can change that.”

Schmidtke touted growing interest among global network operators in TIP, which Facebook launched with the goal of speeding the development of software-powered telecom infrastructure and thus connecting more people around the world to the internet. (Schmidtke said fully 4 billion of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants aren’t connected to reliable internet.) Specifically, he pointed to TIP’s operator members ranging from Telefonica to T-Mobile to Bell.