n a recent blog post, an employee at Facebook revealed that company researchers have developed a way to reduce the cost of deploying fiber-optic cable – and agreed to license it to a new company.
Karthik Yogeeswaran, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as a wireless systems engineer at the company, says the new approach is designed to be paired with electrical distribution grids, specifically the medium voltage grid. Details of the approach are scarce; Yogeeswaran says the technique combines “aerial construction techniques with a number of novel technical components.” Use of the technique alongside electric utility infrastructure can lower the cost of deploying fiber to $2 to $3 per meter in developing countries, he asserts.
Facebook’s goal in the development effort is to promote the deployment of open optical broadband access networks in developing countries; using the approach would “bring fiber to nearly every cell tower and within a few hundred meters of most of the population,” Yogeeswaran writes. To this end, Facebook has granted a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to a new company, San Francisco-based NetEquity Networks, to leverage the technique in the field. The principles on which the company will operate include, according to Yogeeswaran:
Open access to the fiber
Fair and equitable pricing
Decreasing prices for capacity as traffic grows
Equal construction of fiber in both rural and lower-income communities and affluent ones
Shared benefits of the fiber network with the electric company.
Yogeeswaran estimates that the first major deployment using the new technology will take place within two years.