Facebook announces subsea cables, mmWave mesh to take the Internet to dark spots

Kolkata (India) correspondent: Facebook is working on the first-ever transatlantic, 24-fiber-pair subsea cable system that will connect Europe and the United States with a capacity of half a petabit per second.
Facebook is working on the first-ever transatlantic, 24-fiber-pair subsea cable system that will connect Europe and the United States with a capacity of half a petabit per second — roughly half a million gigabits. The company also announced its Terragraph technology, which creates an mmWave mesh to solve the problem of last-mile connectivity.
The company has not revealed any more details on when the undersea cable will be operational. However, Facebook’s connectivity team did share more details on its 2Africa Pearls undersea cable, which was announced earlier this year. The Africa cable project cable will connect Africa to Asia and Europe landing in 46 cities in 33 countries.
“We have even designed floating power stations that sit in the middle of the ocean, harnessing the power of the sun and the waves, delivering it to the cables in the ocean floor, allowing us to boost their capacity,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said during a press briefing.
We are building more than 150,000 km of subsea cables with our partners, alongside new technologies that will dramatically improve the capacity and performance of those cables. This will have a major impact on underserved regions of the world, notably in Africa, where our work is set to triple, triple the amount of internet bandwidth, reaching the continent,” Dan Rabinovitsj, Vice-President, Facebook Connectivity explained.
The company has built a predictive model to help them forecast where subsea cable routes need to be built to ensure high network availability. “Each route is examined for localised hazards from fishing and undersea volcanoes, etc,” Cynthia Perret, Program Manager – Submarine Cables at Facebook explained.
Perret pointed out that very often the capacity of an undersea cable is limited by the amount of electricity it can receive, via the booster boxes and this typically comes from onshore. “We are exploring a sustainable way of doing this using a combination of wave energy converters and solar panels. The aim is to continuously generate up to 25 kilowatts of power to supply two subsea cables at various points in the middle of the ocean,” she stressed, though the technology is still being tested.
Facebook’s Terragraph technology, meanwhile, wants to solve the problem of last-mile connectivity, especially in areas where laying down fiber cable to each home might not be possible. It is already in use in Anchorage, Alaska, and Perth, Australia. Terragraph is being used in Alaska by Alaska Communications, where deploying fiber is a lot more challenging given the environmental conditions.
It is a transmitter box mounted on street signs and lamp posts and delivers multi-gigabit performance wirelessly. Yael Maguire VP, Engineering at Facebook explained Terragraph was like “extending fiber in the air,” and it builds upon “existing fiber points by extending their capacity.”
The Terragraph boxes act as a mesh network of sorts and Facebook says it has worked with a number of partners, including Qualcomm to build this. It uses mmWave technology at 60 Hz spectrum. Facebook also stress-tested this in its own Menlo Park headquarters before rolling out the technology prototype.
In order to overcome obstacles, the robot will use a 3D map of the world, which is generated from an onboard stereo camera. Bombyx is still in the prototype phase for now, though Facebook is starting discussions with a handful of electric utility companies.
News is being sent by BTC News (Bangladesh) Kolkata (India) correspondent. Subhokar Bose. #

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