Facebook is keen to cover Africa with fiber optic cables for better internet service. The social networking giant is planning to lay about 500 miles of fiber cable in Uganda by the end of this year. According to the company, this will offer internet access to more than 3 million people, notes Recode.
Partnering with network providers
By the end of 2015, only 226 million smartphones were connected to the internet in Africa, which is home to over 1.2 billion people. This number is expected to triple by 2020, according to The Guardian.
Facebook, which is partnering with Airtel and BCS to offer the internet service, states that the fiber will enable more support for “mobile operators’ base stations.” Citing a source familiar with the development, Recode says all three companies are committed in financial terms as well, though the portion paid by each is not clear as of now. The U.S. firm does not rule out the possibility of working with other network providers in the future.
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How Facebook plans to connect the world
The California-based company has been making attempts to bring everyone onto Facebook, but this is not an easy task, given that there are still places in the world that do not have internet access. To address this, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is working to ensure there is adequate infrastructure in place to connect the world through the internet and bring down the cost of wireless data.
Facebook is betting on UAVs when it comes to connecting the globe to the internet. In the quest, Facebook’s Connectivity Lab has taken the front seat as part of its Internet.Org initiative. The U.S. firm envisions a string of solar-powered aircraft with a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 to send data at the speed of fiber optics at a lower cost.
In one attempt, Facebook’s Aquila prototype stayed afloat for 90 minutes, but it was apparently damaged during the test flight. Facebook’s initiatives faced an even bigger setback in September when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which was carrying a $200 million Internet satellite, exploded on the launch pad.
Now Facebook is ready with its fiber cables, a different strategy for the social giant. However, it is not new to Silicon Valley, as Alphabet has been looking to lay fiber in the United States. These efforts have faced several challenges, including layoffs, because it involves a lot of costs to dig up dirt and lay fiber cable.