Facebook To Work With BT On Expanding Global Internet

March 3, 2017

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FACEBOOK and BT have announced plans to open a UK hub for developing next-generation telecoms technology, part of the social media giant’s efforts to expand global internet access. The “ecosystem acceleration centres” will host start-ups backed by a $170m (135m) London investment fund announced by Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project (TIP).

Facebook, which needs to expand internet access to the developing world to continue its rapid growth, leads the TIP consortium of telecoms groups, hoping to shake up mobile networks by building equipment that can boost speeds and coverage.

The centres, in London’s Tech City and at BT’s research headquarters in Adastral Park near Ipswich, will be run by BT and explore how technology developed by the start-ups based there can be applied to improving networks.

The companies occupying the centres will be backed by the $170m fund, which comes from a group of British investors including the start-up incubator Entrepreneur First and tech fund Atlantic Bridge.

While Facebook is not investing its own money in the fund, and has said it will not offer internet services to consumers, it sees itself as spearheading the push to improve mobile networks as Facebook users move from sending text and photos to more dataheavy activities such as streaming video and virtual reality.

The UK acceleration centres are the first that have been opened in Europe, following one in Seoul created by Facebook and South Korea Telecom.

$170m Size of the London investment fund that will provide backing for start-ups operating at the two new research centres


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