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Facebook might have a solution to its free WiFi's shortcomings

Engadget Engadget 11/05/2016 Timothy J. Seppala
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Facebook knows that a key limitation of its Terragraph gigabit WiFi system is how it falls apart over long distances. Line of sight is kind of a pain that way and even a 7GBPS data signal degrades when there's a nearby object blocking its path. So it's devised a workaround for it with a code framework that helps nodes on the network make faster, autonomous decisions about data routing. Open/R will eventually be open-sourced (it's based on open-source code as it is), and Facebook describes the initiative as a way of helping advance Terragraph's code quickly and thus make the free WiFi project faster and more efficient.

The company further notes that because its network is under full, in-house control, it doesn't have to be compatible with "every legacy feature" on a given network because it can target the aspects Facebook needs most, and then augment further when the demand arises. If you'll remember, Facebook can achieve this, at least in part, because access is limited to the social network itself and a few other sites -- there's no need play nicely with the entire World Wide Web at that point.

It's already in place at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, and, like The Verge notes, a public test is coming to nearby San Jose before year's end. Outfits like DARPA and Starry, each working on their own variations of this type of tech, are probably pretty interested in seeing what's what once Zuckerberg and Co. release the code to the masses.


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