facebook fiber span robot

Facebook said today that it will build a fiber network in Indiana to interconnect some of its data centers. The company also noted that it will make capacity on that network available to communications service providers.

Where possible, Facebook purchases fiber connectivity from other companies but sometimes is unable to find fiber suitable to meet its needs and undertakes its own network construction, explained Michele Kohler, Facebook business development manager for network investment, in an interview with Telecompetitor.

In 2019, for example, the company announced a similar fiber network build between Columbus, Ohio and Ashburn, Virginia. At that time, the company said it would offer excess capacity on that network to other service providers.

That network is still under construction and as a result, Facebook has no announced fiber sales. But according to Kohler, “we’ve gotten a lot of interest and had a lot of conversations.”

Among those interested are wireline and wireless providers, companies looking for long-haul connectivity and companies looking to build last-mile broadband networks, she said. The Facebook network options may be particularly appealing to last-mile providers because the networks connect to key traffic exchange points.

The Facebook Indiana network will span the state from east to west along Interstate 70, Kohler explained. West of Indianapolis, the company will use fiber from Zayo, but east of Indianapolis, the company will lay its own fiber.

“In Indiana, there wasn’t a solution to go into Ohio,” Kohler explained. “It was partly because we require four paths of diversity.”

Facebook doesn’t factor in potential sales to communications service providers when it plans its fiber builds, Kohler noted. But conversations with providers in advance of a network build have influenced construction decisions.

She noted, for example, that Facebook made the decision to make microduct part of its installation to make it easier to connect to the network at points along the way. This approach eliminates the need for last-mile providers to build fiber to a Facebook in-line amplification (ILA) hut, reducing the amount of fiber required to connect the community to the Facebook network by as much as 40 kilometers.

Facebook plans to offer both dark and lit fiber. The latter is expected to be attractive for 10 Gbps or 100 Gbps backhaul connectivity to major network access points, Kohler noted.

Facebook Fiber Network Video

To promote its Indiana fiber network plans, Facebook created a 10-minute video that includes interviews with people from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Indiana City-County Council, Butler University, Indiana University and other organizations.

The video likens efforts to improve broadband availability to interstate highway initiatives that began in 1956 and “completely transformed American life.”

“The same can be said of the internet,” the video explains, also noting that “broadband is your bank, your doctor, your grocery store, your office, your school.”

In explaining Facebook’s role, the video notes that “every time we build a new data center, we lay a lot of fiber – fiber that benefits everyone.”

Additional information about Facebook fiber network plans can be found in this blog post.

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