Facebook has become the latest to declare a serious interest in using the high frequency unlicensed 60Ghz band. This follows the announcement in January that Starry was also to launch a commercial internet broadband service based on this underutilized free spectrum.
Facebook however is planning on utilising the high frequency bandwidth via a mesh network, to service rural and poor populations. "This work is part of the Connectivity Lab which supports the mission of Internet.org — to connect the four billion people who don't have Internet access," a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook does appear serious about this project, and has recently submitted a patent for the technology, which read: "The system dynamically adjusts route and frequency channel assignments, transmit power, modulation, coding, and symbol rate to maximize network capacity and probability of packet delivery, rather than trying to maximize the capacity of any one link,"
The overwhelming problem with the 60Ghz range is that it is easily absorbed and blocked by walls and is very susceptible to rain fade, which is the degradation of signal power during inclement weather. Higher transmission power is required to mitigate the loss of signal strength during heavy rain but at 60 GHz the range is not going to be great even in fine weather, presumably that is why they are banking on a mesh network in rural areas.
Starry is also launching with the same technology so it will be interesting to see what happens should Facebook be actually granted a patent for the millimeter mesh technology.
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