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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

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.

38 mins ago - Technology

Why domestic terrorists are so hard to police online

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Domestic terrorism has proven to be more difficult for Big Tech companies to police online than foreign terrorism.

The big picture: That's largely because the politics are harder. There's more unity around the need to go after foreign extremists than domestic ones — and less danger of overreaching and provoking a backlash.