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African fibre optic plans for Facebook

Screen Shot 2017 02 28 at 09.51.42

African fibre optic plans for Facebook

Social media giant Facebook has recently revealed plans that would involve the company laying close to 500 miles of fibre optic cables in Africa to connect more people to the internet.

The Californian company has outlined that it plans to lay the cable in Uganda and expects to have it in place by the end of the year. It believes that by installing the cable, its infrastructure will be able to provide internet access to more than three million people.

Furthermore, the social enterprise will not be completing this project alone, because it will not be providing a wireless network of its own. For the project, Facebook has teamed up with Airtel, a telecommunications company that operates in Asia and Africa, and IT giant BCS. These companies will be responsible for providing the actual internet services.

All three organisations are believed to be making some sort of financial contribution to the project, although it is unclear as to which company is paying for what and how much. Facebook has not yet commented on the financial implications of the project.

The site has hinted that this may be a long-term initiative as well, as it has said that it is open to partnering up with other network providers in the future.

The fibre optic project is just the latest in a number of efforts Facebook has made over the last few years to bring internet access to more people across the world. It would appear that one of the company’s biggest ambitions away from its successful social network is to connect the whole world to the internet and eventually its own network, but it would seem like this is a very ambition objective when a significant part of the world does not yet have any internet access at all.

The social network already boasts the largest user base of its kind, with more than 1.8 billion people currently registered to the site.

In 2015, the company started work on a project that would see solar-powered drones flying at altitude beaming down internet connectivity to the more remote areas of the globe. Last summer, it managed to complete the first test flight of one of these drones, but it crashed on landing. As far as is public knowledge, the company will be continuing its interest in the drone project and will run it alongside other initiatives with the same goals, such as the Uganda fibre optic cable.

At present, the continent of Africa is populated by more than 1.2 billion people. However, only a small proportion of its people have access to the internet. The Guardian announced that by the end of 2015, there were 226 million smartphones connected to the internet, and this is a figure that’s expected to triple by the end of 2020.

Alan Littler

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