Facebook has announced a new expansion of its 2Africa subsea cable project, which will now facilitate advanced internet connection between three continents - Africa, Europe, and Asia.
As you can see in this diagram, the new ‘Pearls’ section of the 2Africa project, which was first launched in May last year, will link India, Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia into the project, improving connection into more regions.
As explained by Facebook:
“This extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa cable system to more than 45,000 kilometers, making it the longest subsea cable system ever deployed.”
Facebook initially invested $1 billion into the 2Africa project, which, along with regional partners, will see The Social Network facilitating advanced internet access into these regions.
Which, in the case of Africa, in particular, will play a key role in its global expansion plans.
“Currently, Africa is the least connected continent, with only a quarter of its 1.3 billion people connected to the internet […] The 2Africa subsea cable system will provide nearly three times the total network capacity of all the subsea cables serving Africa today.”
The project will facilitate broader opportunities in these markets, while for Facebook, it will also provide more potential to sign-up the next billion users, and become a bigger part of the infrastructure in these developing regions.
Which could also be a negative. Various concerns have been raised about the divisive nature of Facebook, and in regions where it is available in Africa, it has already sparked debate around its capacity to facilitate the spread of misinformation, and undermine democratic process.
Add to that the various concerns highlighted in the recent Facebook Files expose by The Wall Street Journal, relating to the broader societal impacts of the platform, and there is a case to be made that Facebook shouldn’t be allowed into some of these new regions – but for Facebook itself, the project will facilitate huge growth potential, and capacity to make its platform the key connective tool in more markets.
Which, essentially, will see the continued expansion of the social behemoth. Facebook’s apps already reach more than 3.5 billion people every month – and when you consider that the population of the entire world is 7.9 billion, and that Facebook is not available in China (1.4 billion people), and some regions, as Facebook notes, still don’t have web connectivity, it’s fairly safe to assume that, based on current usage rates, many of these newly connected people will indeed end up adding to Facebook’s active user totals.
It’s amazing to see Facebook continuing to add users every quarter, and it’s through projects like this, which focus on global expansion, that Facebook has been able to maintain its growth momentum, and build more presence in developing markets.
And if Zuck and Co can establish Facebook as a more central, more critical connective utility in more of these regions, that will lay the groundwork for continued expansion for the company.
Concerns remain, and debate continues over whether Facebook is a good or bad thing for society. But as they do, Facebook continues on ahead, establishing roots in many more regions.