Facebook partners with Telefonica, others, to extend rural connectivity and bring internet access to more people
With all the recent negative news about Facebook, the social giant continues to make good and positive impacts around the world, especially among people in the developing world. As part of its effort to meet the unique challenges of connecting rural communities, Facebook today announced it’s joining forces with Telefonica, IDB Invest, and CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) to launch Internet para Todos (IpT) Peru, a project to form an open access wholesale rural mobile infrastructure operator. Facebook made the announcement during this year MWC Barcelona. The aim is to set up an open access wholesale rural mobile infrastructure operator to bring mobile broadband to remote populations where conventional telecom infrastructure deployment is not yet economically feasible.
The partnership is part of its Facebook Connectivity, with the mission to bring faster internet access and its benefits to everyone — giving more people a voice, strengthening communities, and creating new economic opportunities. This is one of many partnerships Facebook is involved. The social giant currently has hundreds of partners around the world, and continues to explore new ways to bring fast, reliable internet to those without it. The partnership will help demonstrate that infrastructure projects based on open access principles, combined with new technologies and business models, can connect communities and serve as a model for other areas of the world.
As part of the new partnership, IpT Peru will connect rural communities throughout Peru by enabling any mobile network operator to use its 3G and 4G infrastructure to deliver high quality retail mobile communication services, said the partners, who are hoping the success of the venture in Peru will pave the way to replicate this type of business model in other countries on Latin America and the Caribbean region.
Telefonica’s local subsidiary (Telefonica del Peru) is contributing and opening its existing rural business to IpT Peru while Facebook, IDB Invest and CAF are investing in the venture with the goal of upgrading existing voice services and building new sites to deliver fast mobile Internet coverage in a wholesale Network as a Service model (NaaS). The agreement is subject to regulatory approval.
“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. This is a model that we believe can help overcome global connectivity challenges, ultimately enabling more people in rural areas to have affordable, high-quality internet access,” Facebook said.
The partners added that IpT will look to achieve economic sustainability through partnerships with local communities and by using open technologies that will reduce the cost of deployment in areas where current technologies are cost prohibitive. These include cloud-like architectures, automated network planning, open radio access solutions (Open RAN) and a combination of optimised fibre and microwave networks.
“The one thing that has been consistent since the very beginning is that there’s no silver bullet,” Facebook director of engineering Yael Maguire told me during an interview at MWC. “We try to contribute to different parts of the ecosystem. The ecosystem could be in dense urban markets where we’re doing things like Terragraph, or rural markets where we are doing Express Wi-Fi.”
Building an approximately 750 km open-access fiber deployment in Edo and Ogun States, Nigeria.
Posted by Facebook Engineering on Thursday, February 21, 2019