Through Facebook Connectivity, Facebook is working on bringing internet access and its benefits to everyone. Photo: (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

DURBAN - Through Facebook Connectivity, Facebook is working on bringing internet access and its benefits to everyone — giving more people a voice, strengthening communities, and creating new economic opportunities. 

To do this, Facebook is taking a partner-first approach, working with network operators, equipment manufacturers, and other partners to introduce new initiatives and develop technologies that help bring people online to a faster internet.

Today the Facebook Connectivity team is announcing new partnerships and discussing the momentum we are seeing on our existing efforts across a wide range of technology and program partnerships.

New partnerships and technologies to extend rural connectivity

To meet the unique challenges of connecting rural communities, Facebook is collaborating with global operators to test new wireless technologies and business models that will help extend connectivity to areas that lack mobile broadband coverage.

In Latin America, Telefonica, Facebook, IDB Invest, and CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) are launching Internet para Todos (IpT) Peru, a project to form an open access wholesale rural mobile infrastructure operator. Any mobile operator in Peru will be able to use IpT’s 3G and 4G infrastructure to deliver retail mobile services. Telefonica del Peru is contributing its existing rural business to IpT Peru.  Facebook, IDB Invest, and CAF are investing in IpT Peru, with the goal of upgrading existing services and building new sites, enabling retail providers to deliver faster mobile Internet coverage. 

We are also collaborating with Viasat to accelerate deployment of its satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi hotspots, which are currently available to more than one million people across Mexico. Facebook is investing in the rollout and working with Viasat to help identify optimal deployment locations within Viasat’s satellite coverage area using open population maps.

Open source technology to enable new operator business models

We’re also announcing Magma, an open source software platform that will help simplify and extend mobile network deployments for operators. Magma includes a distributed mobile packet core supporting local breakout of the data plane, in addition to network automation and management software. Initial Magma launch partners are Telefonica and BRCK.

New investments in fibre connectivity

Facebook will continue to work with partners on open-access transport networks, investing alongside providers to deploy and manage these networks. The social network is announcing that MainOne is building an approximately 750 km open-access fiber deployment in Edo and Ogun States, Nigeria that will provide metro fibre connectivity reaching more than 1 million people. The project includes co-investment from Facebook and support from local state authorities.

Inn South Africa, we supported the build and provisioning of fiber infrastructure for Wi-Fi hotspots in Diepsloot and Katlehong that currently serve 90,000 monthly users. While in Uganda, we built 770 km of fiber in the northwestern region, where our partners have continued to connect their base stations and POPs, expanding their coverage by 40 percent and enabling broadband coverage for more than half a million people.

Wi-Fi momentum with partners

Facebook also announced new partners that are launching Express Wi-Fi — including CellC in South Africa, Vodafone in Ghana, and Globe in the Philippines — to provide people with fast, affordable, and reliable access to the internet. With Express Wi-Fi, Facebook works with internet providers and mobile operators to help build and grow their Wi-Fi businesses in a sustainable and scalable way. 

Growing the millimeter-wave gigabit wireless ecosystem with Terragraph

With Terragraph, Facebook is working to bring high-speed connectivity to urban and suburban communities by collaborating with ecosystem partners on mesh technology, new software tools, and standardized air interfaces (802.11ay). In Canton, Ohio (with Agile Networks and RADWIN) and Penang, Malaysia (with YTL Communications), Terragraph is enabling providers to deliver smart city services and faster fixed broadband. In Alameda, California (with Common Networks), Terragraph is delivering high-speed gigabit wireless connectivity at lower costs and faster deployment times than traditional fiber deployments. In Curitiba, Brazil (with Vivo), a trial has demonstrated that Terragraph technology can help deliver broadband to communities in Brazil. In partnership with Deutsche Telekom, we’re also announcing an upcoming pilot in Athens, Greece (with OTE).

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