Verizon, T-Mo, Sprint still not jumping into Facebook's TIP

When it comes to Facebook's Telecom Infra Project (TIP) that the social networking giant launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, it appears that the biggest U.S. wireless carriers are just not that into it.

Verizon was still evaluating it back in May, and that hasn't changed, according to a spokesman. T-Mobile is not part of TIP and it has not made a decision on whether to join, a spokesman confirmed to FierceWirelessTech. A Sprint spokeswoman said it is evaluating the concept of open source hardware as a way to minimize costs, but it's not currently planning to play an active role in TIP. AT&T did not have any comment.

When it was announced back in February, TIP had the backing of Nokia and Intel, as well as network operators Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom. At the time, Verizon's VP of carrier access technology planning, Adam Koeppe, told FierceWireless that the carrier would take a look at TIP when it's a little more mature, and he pointed out that Verizon already works with Facebook on other projects.

In May, TIP announced more additions to the roster, including Vodafone and Telefonica. Facebook's head of engineering and infrastructure, Jay Parikh, recently told FierceWireless that the group has made some significant progress during the past few months, estimating that it now counts 120-140 member companies.

TIP is an engineering-focused initiative designed to bring together operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators and other technology companies to collaborate on the development of new technologies and reimagine traditional approaches to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure. Computing companies like Facebook have pushed for changes in how telecom networks are designed, and much of that is getting addressed through open standards and a migration to SDN and NFV. 

AT&T and Verizon are part of the Facebook-led Open Compute Project, which grew out of a desire by a small team of Facebook engineers to tackle the challenges around how to scale its computing infrastructure in the most efficient and economical way possible. What resulted was a data center built in Prineville, Oregon, that uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook's existing facilities, while costing 24 percent less.

AT&T has made no secret of its intentions to move to a software-driven network, and SDN and NFV are expected to be part of the overall 5G ecosystem as well. The NFV concept originated with service providers that wanted to accelerate the deployment of new network services, and it officially got off the ground in October 2013 when ETSI published the first five specifications on NFV. The NFV Industry Specification Group began its work in January 2013.

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