Facebook to Telcos: Forget Hardware Empires—Let’s All Share

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The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona saw the further rise of a movement that seeks to upend the traditional telecommunication business model, encouraging telecom companies to build common infrastructure they all can share. Why build three networks when you can build one? Wouldn’t that be better for everyone, telcos and consumers alike? Wouldn’t you get a 5G signal sooner—and for less money? The chief mover is not a telco. Rather, it’s a company that has made a habit of putting its name, money, and power behind efforts to democratize the development of new technology: Facebook.

On Feb 27, Facebook announced collaborations with two different telcos in Uganda to lay about 480 miles of fiber in the northwest region of the African nation. The three companies plan to share this fiber with any other interested telco, distributing the internet to countless wireless towers and then on to an estimated 3 million people in the process. Facebook hopes the project can serve as a template for telcos looking to more quickly and efficiently deploy fiber to places that don’t already have it. “Where operators can come together and leverage common infrastructure, there is more flexibility, lower cost, and a better time to market,” says Faceboook vice president of engineering Jay Parikh. And ultimately, that means more people will use Facebook.


Facebook to Telcos: Forget Hardware Empires—Let’s All Share