Facebook launches wholesale carrier subsidiary

13 March 2019 | Jason McGee-Abe

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Facebook has entered the wholesale fibre market as it plans to sell excess capacity on fibre routes via a newly-launched subsidiary called Middle Mile Infrastructure.

The news comes as the company announced it was deploying new fibre networks in the US and that it was willing to sell any unused capacity on its fibre routes to third parties, including local and regional providers. “This means you’ll start to see a Facebook subsidiary, Middle Mile Infrastructure, operating as a wholesale provider (or, where necessary, as a telecommunications carrier),” said Kevin Salvadori (pictured), director of network investments at Facebook, in a company blog post.

Salvadori added: “We intend to allow third parties — including local and regional providers — to purchase excess capacity on our fibre. 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 fibre builds,”

“Unlike a retail telecommunications provider, we will not be providing services directly to consumers. Our goal is to support the operators that provide such services to consumers. We will reserve a portion for our own use and make the excess available to others.”

Facebook has invested heavily in high-capacity fibre-optic routes to provide much-needed resiliency and scale in the face of surging capacity demands from trends such as video and virtual reality. It has also strengthened the long-haul fibre networks that connect its data centres to one another and to the rest of the world.

The director of network investments added: “As a continuation of our previous investments, we are building two new routes that exemplify this approach. We will be investing in new long-haul fibre to allow direct connectivity between our data centres in Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina.”

The Facebook blog post reaffirmed the company’s commitment to network infrastructure investments as it detailed that the company will continue to “partner and invest in core backbone network infrastructure”.

Facebook has invested heavily not just in the data centre and terrestrial fibre spaces but also the subsea market. Salvadori said: “So we have collaborated with partners to build several subsea fibre-optic cables that are leading the industry in terms of routes, capacity, and flexibility. These include Marea, the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic; Havfrue, the first new cable system in nearly two decades to traverse the North Atlantic; and Jupiter, a high-speed optical submarine cable between Japan and the United States.

Facebook recently teamed up with Telefónica, IDB Invest and CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) to launch a wholesale operator, Internet para Todos (IpT) Peru, to expand internet connectivity in Latin America.