Facebook is getting into the fiber transport business. The social media giant requires a tremendous amount of network capacity to deliver all those social posts, ads, and videos all across the globe. As a result, Facebook owns and operates a large and growing number of data centers, and those facilities need robust fiber connectivity.
The company is being creative by building its own fiber networks and links. A Facebook blog post outlined the fiber capacity strategy, which includes utilizing existing networks where possible, but also highlights building their own fiber network links, and wholesaling capacity to other network providers. The company has launched a subsidiary, Middle Mile Infrastructure, to act as a wholesale carrier offering network transport in these arrangements.
Facebook is investing in new fiber routes to connect data centers in Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. It will generate revenue that will at least partly pay for the projects. “We intend to allow third parties — including local and regional providers — to purchase excess capacity on our fiber,” a blog post reads. “This capacity could provide additional network infrastructure to existing and emerging providers, helping them extend service to many parts of the country, and particularly in underserved rural areas near our long-haul fiber builds.”
Facebook, according to the blog post, has built a 200-mile fiber route connecting a new data center in New Mexico to one in Texas. It claims that it is one of the highest capacity links in the country.
Earlier this week, Telecompetitor first highlighted this interesting Facebook initiative, that links Ashburn, VA and Columbus, OH. It’s significant that the press release on the project was issued by the office of West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito. A great deal of the fiber link will be in that state and will generate economic activity such as interconnecting with other networks or selling or otherwise making capacity available to connecting networks.
In some cases, entities gain access to rights-of-way by providing capacity and related services to the municipalities along the route. This is nothing new. However, the dynamic in which these negotiations are conducted may be different because of Facebook’s high profile – as it was for Google Fiber a decade ago, who created quite a stir with their FTTH aspirations.