Facebook wants to circle Africa with an undersea data cable

It could help the company connect more users.

Facebook's quest to connect more of Africa may have it practically encircling the continent. Wall Street Journal sources maintain that Facebook is in talks to run an undersea data cable (nicknamed Simba -- yes, really) that would run around much of Africa. Details are few and far between, but it might link to existing beach access points in countries along the eastern, northern and western coastlines with the help of telecoms like MTN Group and Vodafone. This would help improve access to Facebook for more of the continent and might just lower the social network's data costs by cutting out in-between companies.

The company wouldn't directly comment on the hoped-for data pipe, but did say it "look[s] all over the world" when planning underwater cable routes. The WSJ cautioned that a deal wasn't guaranteed and might fall apart.

Facebook is no stranger to giant data cable projects, but they tend to focus on links between continents. This would focus on improving access within a single continent, and might be vital if Facebook wants to continue adding users now that over 2.3 billion people are already signed up. Internet service as a whole can be unreliable in Africa due to a developing infrastructure that doesn't always offer fast, consistent links to the rest of the world. This would ensure that all of Facebook's services (particularly ones popular in the area, like WhatsApp) are within reach and perform as well as you'd expect.