Sunday, December 10, 2023

Facebook plans to bring a faster, more reliable internet to everyone

More than 3.5 billion people around the world are still not connected to the internet. As average data usage grows 20-30% annually, nearly half the world is left behind – either lacking adequate access to the internet or remaining completely unconnected.

Social media giant Facebook wants to lead the race that will provide quality internet in every corner of the planet. To this extends, Connectivity researchers at Facebook are developing innovative technologies, which can be deployed across the world by sea, land, and air to ensure equitable access to high-speed internet. Facebook Connectivity works with partners to develop these technologies and bring them to people across the world.

Earlier this week, during an event called Inside the Lab, Facebook engineers shared the latest developments on some of their connectivity technologies, which aim to improve internet capacity across the world by sea, land, and air. Facebook has claimed that they have created a subsea fiber-optic cable that provides 200x more internet capacity than the transatlantic cables of the 2000s. Their first-ever transatlantic subsea cable system will connect Europe to the U.S. This investment builds on other recent subsea expansions, including 2Africa PEARLS which will be the longest subsea cable system in the world connecting Africa, Europe, and Asia.

The company also said that it had invented a robot called Bombyx that moves along power lines, wrapping them with fiber cable. The robot will help cut the time and cost required to roll out fiber-optic internet to communities. Since its first release, the robot has become lighter, faster, and more agile, and it could have a radical effect on the economics of fiber deployment around the world. The technology could enable equal construction of fiber in rural and lower-income communities as well as affluent ones, with open access to the fiber, fair and equitable pricing, decreasing prices for capacity as traffic grows, and shared benefits of the fiber network with the electric company.

Facebook Connectivity researchers have also developed Terragraph, a wireless technology that delivers internet at fiber speed over the air. Terragraph weaves a mesh network that promises to offer buildings similar speeds to those of fiber without the need for cables at a much lower cost than traditional solutions. Instead of covering that urban area with cables, Facebook proposes to place transmitters on roofs and street furniture such as streetlights.

This technology has already brought high-speed internet to more than 6,500 homes in Anchorage, Alaska, and deployment has also started in Perth, Australia, one of the most isolated capital cities in the world.

“We’re proud to reach our milestone of bringing reliable high-speed internet to more than 300M people – but the work doesn’t stop there, Facebook wrote in the blog post. “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. We believe this work is fundamental for creating greater equity where everyone can benefit from the economic, education, and social benefits of a digitally connected world.”