The Global Internet Has Changes Forever And Requires Expanded Infrastructure

November 26, 2021

Matthew Mitchell

Andy Palmer-Felgate

Dr. Herve Fevrier

Dr. Stephen Grubb

By Stephen Grubb, Herve Fevrier, Andy Palmer-Felgate and Matthew Mitchell


The global pandemic has changed all of our lives forever, particularly how we use and depend on reliable internet services. The internet was originally architected as a network based purely on best effort practices. However, the internet has now become an essential element in all aspects of our lives. We now rely on it for working at home, online education, connecting to friends and family, telehealth, and online shopping, especially for small businesses, whose livelihood has been threatened during the pandemic. In supporting our 3.51 Billion Facebook monthly users, we have seen our network grow by 50-80%, depending on the specific global region, in 2020. Personal connections to family, friends and community have become more important than ever during these times. Certain Facebook features such as 3-way or greater calling increased by 700% in some countries during the peak of the pandemic. Facebook groups provide a platform for connection with the community and those users with shared interests. In a

Figure 1: Reliable Internet Services are now essential in all aspects of our lives.

survey of 15,000 Facebook users in 15 countries, over half belong to 5 or more Facebook groups. Of the survey respondents, 98% feel a sense of belonging and inclusion in these groups. Small businesses have been particularly reliant on online services as their traditional business channels and models have been disrupted. Facebook supports 200 million small businesses globally, has provided training for 100 Million businesses, and is supporting more than 1 million active Facebook shops.



But it’s much more than just about increases in network traffic and submarine network capacity. As people rely more and more on the internet for essential services, it also becomes about resilience and reliability of the network and increasing global network reach. Our global network needs to be highly resilient and reliable, and we address this with the combination of a highly meshed optical network and a parallelized 8 plane IP design. We rely on our global submarine cable network for connecting to our 18 data centers, as shown in Figure 2, and expanding the reach to our end users. During the pandemic we have announced our 5 largest submarine cable systems to date: 2Africa, Echo, Bifrost, Apricot and a new 500 Tb/s, 24 fiber pair trans-Atlantic system [1].

Figure 2: Facebook's 18 Worldwide Data Centers.

2Africa, at 45,000 km, is now the longest submarine fiber cable system ever constructed. With the addition of the Pearls system, it now extends into the Arabian gulf, India and Pakistan. It connects 3 continents, having 46 landings in 33 countries, as shown in figure 2. 2Africa will provide nearly 3X the capacity of all the existing submarine cables to Africa. It potentially connects up to 3 Billion people, 36% of the global population [2]. Several studies have shown a positive correlation between the increase of the GDP of nations when they are connected to new submarine fiber cable bandwidth. Echo and Bifrost are two new very long submarine cable projects, on the order of 15,000 km each, that will connect North America to the Asia Pacific region, as shown in Figure 3. These new cable routes provide route diversity through the Java Sea, important for a resilient APAC submarine network. These submarine cables also provide connectivity to our new APAC data center, which is under construction in Singapore.


To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 121 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 16 or on our archive site here.