Facebook’s plan to connect the world to the Internet is ambitious. It also has many arms. There’s Aquila, the solar-powered plane that will beam Internet to the ground. Then there’s Project ARIES, a plan to extend connectivity to rural areas cheaper and faster, so people who live close to cities will be able to access the Internet. But Facebook’s newest project is on the ground. It’s called Terragraph, a low-cost, high-speed wireless network that will replace fiber in big cities.
Facebook will pilot Terragraph in downtown San Jose later this year after a trial run at its Menlo Park campus. The company is placing cheap IPv6-only nodes with WiGig chips on lamp posts, utility poles, and small buildings that will broadcast Internet using unlicensed 60GHz spectrum. That spectrum doesn’t have very good range and is easily absorbed by water and oxygen, said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, during the company’s F8 developers conference Wednesday keynote. But that’s perfect for Facebook, because the company can keep street-level Wi-Fi capacity high for next to nothing.