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Facebook Wants to Get “Billions” Across Africa Online

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
Journalist. Reach me at

Facebook announced on Wednesday a series of new connectivity technologies that will bring the next billion people online and enhance existing infrastructure projects in Africa and elsewhere.

Since 2013, Facebook Connectivity has helped bring more than 500-million people online to faster internet and now, the company aims to enable affordable connectivity with its new emerging technologies.

“We have seen that economies flourish when there is widely accessible internet for individuals and businesses. In Nigeria, increased broadband connectivity resulted in a 7.8 per cent increase in the likelihood of employment for people in areas connected to fibre optic cables,” comments Dan Rabinovitsj, VP of Facebook Connectivity.

“While increased connectivity led to a 19 per cent increase in GDP per capita in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Facebook Connectivity works with partners to develop new technologies for access to high-speed internet. 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,” he continued.

Some of Facebook’s new connectivity technologies include:

  • Investment in improving subsea fibre optic cables and expanding their reach to better connect more people:

Facebook and its partners recently launched the first-ever transatlantic, 24 fibre pair subsea cable system which will connect Europe to the U.S.

This new cable provides 200 times more capacity than the transatlantic cables of the 2000s and builds on Facebook’s recent news about 2Africa Pearls, the subsea cable which connects Africa, Asia, and Europe and makes the 2Africa cable system the longest in the world, with a capacity to provide connectivity for up to 3-billion people.

  • Using robotics for faster fibre deployment:

“We are making fibre deployment significantly more economical through Bombyx, a robot that can climb the medium voltage power lines that already exist in so much of the world, and install fibre onto them. Today, Bombyx is lighter, faster, and more agile than our first-generation design,” the social media powerhouse said in a statement.

Facebook is also making Bombyx fully autonomous, using machine vision sensors to better navigate around obstacles. Bombyx aims to make the single biggest drop in the cost of terrestrial fibre deployment by combining innovations in the fields of robotics and fibre-optic cable design to increase the amount of terrestrial fibre on land — without the expense of trenching to lay fibre underground.

  • Terragraph – Fibre connections through the air:

Terragraph, a wireless solution that beams fibre-like connectivity through the air, has already brought high-speed internet to more than 6,500 homes in Anchorage, Alaska and deployment have started in Perth, Australia.

Facebook licenses Terragraph for free to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). To date, these partners have shipped more than 30,000 Terragraph units to more than 100 service providers and system integrators around the world.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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