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Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Facing both saturation and user fatigue in its core base, Facebook has based a big part of its growth strategy on getting the next billion users online.

The backdrop: Facebook's approach historically has involved partnering with telecom providers to offer users access to certain mobile data for free.

But, amid mixed results and some criticism, Facebook has shifted to a new focus: Helping telecom providers build networks at lower cost. Facebook believes this will lead to lower prices for consumers and have the same effect of bringing new people online.

The nearly three-year-old effort, known as the Telecom Infra Project(TIP), is spearheaded by Facebook but has the backing of a number of global telecom providers —Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, among others — along with big name hardware makers, including Intel, Cisco and Broadcom.

What's new: At its TIP summit in London, Facebook announced Terragraph trials have started with its partners in Hungary, Malaysia and Indonesia.

  • Terragraph uses the same components as a high-speed, high-frequency wireless protocol known as WiGig to deliver gigabit speeds to dense underserved urban areas at a fraction of the cost of fiber.
  • 3 of the operators that are part of the effort, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone, are shifting into early testing — they are launching a "request for information" from would-be partners to see how they can use TIP technologies in their network infrastructure.
  • Facebook will also start new field trials in Brazil with Vivo.

The big picture: Bringing together things that work from both a technological and business perspective is the big challenge, Facebook VP Jay Parikh told me in an on-stage interview.

  • "You can solve the technology-side problems, but not make it in a way that closes the business side models for the operators," he said.
  • Parikh also reassured the carriers in the crowd that Facebook isn't looking to get into their business. "There’s no interest in us being an operator," he said. "We really want to help the operator community solve these problems."

The context: Facebook did something like this in the server space with its Open Compute Project. It hopes to similarly drive costs down in telecom, offering alternative approaches to traditional cellular gear from Ericsson, Nokia and in particular from the current low-cost leader, Huawei.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Fall and winter COVID surge "unlikely" if people get vaccinated.
  2. Politics: School boards are the next political battleground.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA vaccine approval — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations.
  5. World: Asia faces massive new COVID surgeIndia records its deadliest day of the pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Kevin McCarthy officially endorses Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) officially endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to become the GOP's next House Republican conference chair during a Fox News appearance Sunday.

Why it matters: The GOP has been feuding internally over the fate of the current chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), because of her criticisms of former President Donald Trump, and her vote to impeach him for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Fauci: Vaccines could turn COVID-19 "surges" into "blips"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday that if more Americans get vaccinated in accordance with the Biden administration's goals, COVID-19 surges may be replaced by "blips."

State of play: Last week President Joe Biden announced his goal to get 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4, with at least 70% of Americans having at least one shot.