Facebook wants to turn Telecommunications into a commodity, but not like you think
We have been watching Facebook flirt with the access network to its users for years, waving the banner of Internet dogma (and Facebook) for everyone, and trying to bring hyper-connectivity to the most remote places on the planet. Other giants of the sector accompany him in that heroic (and commercial) feat. Facebook is one of the most benefited by the fact that everyone has access almost everywhere to their services. But now Facebook intends to go a step further, and is considering attacking the most technical heart of the telecommunications market.
Facebook would not only make an important part of a cake estimated at 350,000 million dollars, but also gain with key strategic control, which would allow it to have direct line (and data) of its users . Remember that data is the new raw material of the economy, as we analyze for you in the article ” Our data is the new raw material of the economy, to regulate the ‘data economy’ is essence”. In any case, manufacturers such as Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco, or Juniper Networks are beginning to see their natural and traditional markets threatened, and in the not too distant future we will be able to see how the foundations of the market telcos and their suppliers.
Beyond the futuribles, the Facebook team is here
We are talking about plans, projections of the future, estimates … but the most surprising thing about this initiative of the blue social giant is that its telecommunications equipment is already in the market. As you can read in this Business Insider link, Facebook already has its own subscriber loop equipment: a standard whitebox called Voyager. The executives of Facebook were at first reluctant to the idea that is proposed by a small group of their engineers, because the previous professional experience of some of them in telecommunications manufacturers told them that making one of these equipment was excessively expensive, and required a strong investment and the hiring of highly qualified teams.
But the executive line of Facebook did not turn away from the idea, and yet they allowed this small group of visionary engineers to enter with their initiative in one of the hackathons of the company. In three months this team of engineers already had a prototype. After only another three months, in November 2016, Facebook announced to the world its commercial telecommunications equipment called Voyager , as you can read in this review of the website of Facebook itself.
The news shook the foundations of the telecommunications sector, and the major manufacturers went from feeling secure in a consolidated market and that they were divided among a few players worldwide, to feel that their future is seriously threatened, and that, for their horror, its products are on their way to becoming a commodity with little added value and more than reduced margin. And Voyager seems to be advancing at a good pace to become a protagonist of this market, since, as you can read in the previous news, in just only six months that distance us from its commercial launch, the equipment is already being manufactured by the German manufacturer of optical equipment of telecommunications ADVA, real field tests have already been carried out in the thousands of kilometers of the network of the Nordic operator Telia, and it already has nine customers testing the equipment. These customers include operators such as Orange, or large non-operating companies with needs for this type of equipment.
Voyager is just the beginning: as its name evokes, a probe launched to this market
But Facebook does not put obstacles to its aspirations in this market: they will not settle for a simple optical equipment subscriber loop. Facebook ambitions much more in the Telecommunications market. As an example of this, there is the fact that Facebook has its own project, called the “Telecom Infrastructure Project” (TIP), and that it is a consortium led by Zuckerberg’s company , which was announced at the February Mobile World Congress. of 2016. Undoubtedly, the generic name gives us a clear idea of the extent to which Facebook intends to turn the telecommunications sector upside down.
Facebook has long since done the same with its most predominant technological infrastructure: servers, storage and communications infrastructure of its Data Centers. Facebook, for example, already designs its own specific servers, optimized for the use it makes of them, and at a significantly lower cost compared to buying them from traditional vendors. But this is not an exclusive trend of Zuckerberg’s company. Other technology giants like Amazon or Google have done the same to reduce the costs of provisioning their CPDs, and even Google has reached the point of having created its own microprocessor chip, specifically designed for its optimal performance in solving tasks of Intelligence artificial. As you can readIn this news from the prestigious Wired magazine , this processor has allowed Google to give you services of virtual assistant and voice recognition without the need to build the 15 Data Centers that the new services required with traditional hardware.
As you have read, Facebook now openly recognizes that its TIP project was launched with the idea of seeking control over the technology it uses to support its 1,800 million users and all the services it offers. It is an open secret that wants to have absolute control over all the elements of the value chain that connects its customers and users , and in the process it can open up new markets and take control of other sectors, expanding its influence, its power and, of course, your billing.
Remember that one thing is the initial objective, and the final result is very different: we are heading towards a dangerous technological and business concentration in many economic aspects (which will also end up being socioeconomic), and about which we already talk in more detail in this analysis ” Innovation is concentrated, and it is not good “. That something is an undoubted technological progress today, does not imply that, especially if we ignore our obligation to shape the future that comes, may end up being a hindrance and a factor of socioeconomic unsustainability in the long term. We can not avoidour responsibility to regulate these giants in a way that is appropriate for them and also for the rest of society, laying the foundations of a sustainable socioeconomy in the future.
And Facebook has taken this step with an exciting collaborative approach and for the community
But there is not all the exciting changes that emerge after the initiative of Facebook. Since he is not an established player, he is a new entrant and as such arrives at a new market literally like an elephant in a china shop. Since in this new market he can only win new business (both new and derived from his traditional activity), Facebook can afford to boast of approaching the telecommunications market with a strongly collaborative approach, and in pursuit of the community.
Yes, as you read: one of the most important aspects that have characterized the recent movement of Facebook is that the company of the blue f has approached its initiative by surprising its own and strangers, and is openly sharing all the designs of these new equipment. Moreover, it has even coined the concept of Hadware Open-Source with which invites any or other companies to work side by side to improve designs or address new ones. This is (literally) community, something that only the “New Kids on the Block” can do, who are not tied by being mature players of a market already distributed among better-off players than a newcomer, who also has in this case enough muscle to turn the sector upside down.
Beyond the democratization of technology
After the democratization of technology that has made us almost all (potential) techies, we can see how we are now witnessing the democratization of the most fundamental foundations of technology. This is a second step in that career that was undertaken a few decades ago, when computer manufacturers began to design homes with a PC at home. Since then we have attended an unstoppable and exciting race that has ended up putting a smartphone in the palm of our hands, filling our lives with infinite possibilities of all kinds. This new phase of the democratization of technological infrastructures can not bring (at least in the medium term) but more technification at a lower cost. That is, more and more technology for everyone and for everything .
But analyzing a little further, our society is not that it is technological, it is that technology is already one of the pillars of our current society, and a new kind of illiteracy will emerge: the technological illiterate. Like some or not, the concept of training, education and culture is changing by leaps and bounds, and technology has entered fully into all aspects of our lives, to be an essential part in the access to all other aspects of our lives. Technology has become key for socio-economic progress: that recurring theme that I always talk about. In the future we will not be able to segregate technology from everything else. It will be something similar to what was at the time the capacity of speech that hominids eventually developed. Initiatives such as the Facebook we are discussing today point in this direction.
That globalization of which I spoke in ” Although it may not seem like it, we still have the third and most disruptive phase of globalization”, and one of its phases was the free flow of information, this is what has brought us this abrupt conditions of markets such as Telecommunications . The project that supposed to bring a new team to the market a decade ago, extremely expensive in times and costs, nowadays has become something that can be done among a group of cronies in the spare time to enter the Hackaton.
Closing for today, and leaving aside the projections for the future, will agree that the movement of Facebook is a substantial change and much more than relevant, which does nothing but show us once again the highly disruptive power of the time that we have to live. As we analyzed in the previous article of globalization, this type of tremendously innovative progress urgently requires a new approach to rise to the challenge, and that makes sustainable this rhythm of profoundly disruptive and exponential progress, which is unprecedented (or even approximate) in the entire History of Humanity. It is not that the legislation is behind technological advances, the thing is so advanced that it is practically technology that is contributing to enact legislation that is not able to see the unavoidable challenges that are already being faced from today.