Facebook building undersea cable in Africa to boost internet access

Facebook announced on May 14 that it is building a 37,000-kilometer undersea cable around Africa to provide people on the continent with better Internet access.

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Facebook is building a huge submarine cable around Africa, with the aim of bringing more than 1.3 billion inhabitants of the continent online.

The social media company has teamed up with China Mobile, MTN in South Africa, Orange in France and Vodafone in Great Britain, as well as local network operators on the project, dubbed 2Africa.

He is responsible for Nokia’s cable system provider, Alcatel Submarine Networks, to build the submarine cable. At 37,000 kilometers – about 22,991 miles – in length, Facebook says the cable will be “almost equal to the circumference of the Earth”. It is not yet known how much funding Facebook and its partners have put behind the project.

According to Facebook, one of the main objectives of this initiative is to improve connectivity in Africa. The continent is “currently the least connected” in the world, writes the company in a blog post Wednesday, with just over a quarter of its population having access to the Internet.

The submarine cable will interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Facebook says it “will provide almost three times the total network capacity of all submarine cables serving Africa today”.

Facebook said the 2Africa project had been made more efficient by using aluminum rather than copper fibers, as these could help increase network capacity. The company is currently developing a new crossing from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, which it says will be the first in this region for over a decade.

“2Africa is the continuation of our continuing efforts to expand the global network infrastructure,” said Facebook. “We have worked with partners around the world to build several industry-leading fiber optic submarine cables in terms of range, capacity and flexibility.”

However, the coronavirus pandemic could pose a number of challenges. The World Health Organization has warned that Africa could be badly affected, Claiming recently he could kill up to 190,000 people in the region in a year if he was not contained.

Meanwhile, global shelter measures have put increased pressure on existing networks with the demand for data-intensive services like Netflix.

Nevertheless, the passage from Facebook highlights the increased interest of Silicon Valley companies in Africa as a high-growth investment opportunity. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said last year that he plans to move to the region – although he recently had to “reassess” that ambition due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Google is also working on an undersea cable, called Equiano, which would connect Africa to Europe. The web search titan has another unit named Loon that manufactures high altitude balloons to provide 4G internet to rural communities. He recently announced a expansion of this regime in Mozambique.

Facebook had previously planned to broadcast the Internet to remote areas using solar drones. Called Aquila, the company closed the project in 2018, but has would have is working with Airbus to retest such drones in Australia.

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