Facebook announces a plan to enable access to fast and affordable internet services for the next one billion people. The company discloses that since 2013 it has managed to provide access to quality internet for over a 500million people on the globe. The company has stressed that it will continue to enhance existing infrastructures using modern and emerging technologies in other for the next 1 Billion people to access high-quality internet.
Dan Rabinovitsj, VP of Facebook Connectivity during the unveiling said “We have seen that economies flourish when there is widely accessible internet for individuals and businesses.” He added that “Today we’re sharing the latest developments on some of these connectivity technologies, which aim to deliver major improvements in internet capacity across the world by sea, land, and air.” In the Democratic Republic of Congo – a GDP per capita of 19 percent was recorded, in Nigeria particularly, reports have shown employment rate increased 7.8 percent as a result of increased broadband connectivity especially in areas where connection to fiber optic cables are detected.
New connectivity technologies Facebook is using to achieve its plans include:
With the introduction of Bombyx, Facebook wishes to make the installation of fiber optic cables faster and more economical. Bombyx is a new technology connectivity tool that can climb existing medium voltage power lines and is capable of rapidly installing fiber-optic cables within a fraction of the time it usually takes to install underground fiber cables. Bombyx is said to be lighter, faster, and fully autonomous, it possesses machine vision sensors in other to navigate obstacles. Bombyx combines the innovative power in robotics and fiber-optic cable design abilities to increase the number of installations for terrestrial fiber cables on land without the expense of trenching to lay fiber underground.
Karthik Yogeeswaran, a member of Facebook’s engineering team shared his excitement about entering almost any territory with the help of Bombyx. Yogeeswaran says “In most of the world, medium-voltage power lines pass down almost every street. If we could find a way to add fiber to those power lines, we would have a solution that could be applied globally.” Yogeeswaran stated that since the commencement of work using Bombyx, Facebook has recorded tremendous successes, a single fiber can serve up to 1,000 homes, and the time taken to cross a power line from 17 minutes has been compressed to about 4 minutes. Bombyx has significantly reduced a lot of costs and the need for human interference.
Along with new connectivity technologies Facebook is using to create infrastructures that would aid connectivity is the Terragraph. Terragraph, a wireless technology solution that is capable of delivering fiber-like wireless networking through the air especially in areas that are quite hard to penetrate with overhead or underground fiber cables. Using Terragraph, it is said to have already provided high-speed broadband connectivity to more than 6,500 homes in regions like Anchorage, Alaska, and deployment has commenced in Perth, Australia. To date, more than 30,000 Terragraph units have been shipped worldwide to service providers and system integrators.
Terragraph makes use of transmitters that can be placed on street fixtures and rooftops to create a distributed network for reliable broadband connectivity for homes and businesses. It is faster to deploy than trenched fiber because it builds on existing points of presence and extends the capacity wirelessly through nodes mounted on existing street fixtures such as lamp posts and traffic lights. According to the Facebook team, Terragraph has the capability to creating a resilient mesh that can reroute signals when the need arises so that capacity will not be cut to homes and businesses in case of an obstruction, such as a building scaffold.
The 2Africa Pearls Subsea System
The 2Africa Pearls would be the world’s longest subsea cable project and would have the potential to provide broadband connectivity across Africa, Europe, and Asia. This is the first-ever transatlantic, 24 fiber pair subsea cable system to be laid. This builds on Facebook’s recent news about 2Africa Pearls and other recent subsea expansions news by Facebook that you find around. This new investment will provide about 200 times more capacity than transatlantic cables of the 2000s. The subsea cable makes the 2Africa cable system the longest globally, with a capacity to provide connectivity for up to 3 billion people. It is expected to have a length of about 150,000km of subsea cable. Facebook team is exploring sea power stations powered by a combination of wave energy converters and solar panels to deliver power to the repeaters from the middle of the ocean. This project is built with partnerships in a consortium.
Facebook believes the journey to providing reliable and affordable broadband connectivity is a continuous one and this is just one of many more steps to achieving it. Facebook says “We’re proud to reach our milestone of bringing high-speed reliable internet to more than 300M people — but the work doesn’t stop there. Connecting the next billion will require many different approaches. And as people look for more immersive experiences in new virtual spaces like the metaverse, we need to increase access to more reliable and affordable internet for everyone.”