YTL Communications, in collaboration with Facebook have just launched a pilot test campaign to use the new Terragraph wireless technology in Georgetown, Penang.

Terragraph is a street-level broadband infrastructure that utilizes nodes to connect an area with high-speed internet. These nodes are box-like devices that does not require trenches or groundwork, which our current standard of optical fibres do. This allows the implementation of Terragraph more cost-efficient and quicker to install compared to its wired counterpart.

These nodes will be placed on structures such as buildings, lampposts and more – signals will ping off one another – effectively making it a large-scale mesh WiFi system. Doing this bypasses large obstacles, which allow quicker connection speeds. The tech leverages V-band spectrum at 60GHz allowing for ridiculous speeds.

Image credit: Facebook

Terragraph feeds off of existing fibre optic bandwidths, redirecting it to deadzones, spreading coverage in areas that may lack cable infrastructure.

The pilot test will be launched by YTL’s YES and Facebook this March 1 in Georgetown, where fibre optic coverage is sparse. YES will be the telco carrier to support Terragraph throughout the six-month pilot, giving Penangites 5G connections via services like public WiFi and Fixed Wireless Access.

However, only a quarter of Georgetown will receive access to Terragraph during the pilot’s initial stages.

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Facebook announced Terragraph in 2016 and implemented it in the States while Europe has also had a taste of this tech, namely in Hungary. Minister of Communications and Media YB Gobind Singh, who was present at the launch, said that the move to introduce Terragraph in Georgetown is the first large-scale implementation of the technology in the country.

Head of Connectivity Ecosystems Programs of Facebook APAC, Bryan Tan said that Terragraph will far exceed broadband speeds allowed by fibre optics. During a speed test carried out during the event, Terragraph was shown to achieve download speeds of 1.3GB and upload speeds of 1.7GB, which far exceeds the speeds of any consumer-level wireless broadband.

Bryan Tan also believes that because of Terragraphs cost effectiveness, he aims to also implement the technology in rural areas, namely near schools so the communities can receive Internet-assisted learning.

“The pilot serves to test usability and effectiveness, and when all the kinks are ironed out, Terragraph will be implemented in consumer levels”, said Gobind Singh.

Not much has been said about when Terragraph will be implemented in the Klang Valley, but if we suspect if the pilot in Georgetown is successful, we can see Terragraph rolled out across all urban areas in the country.