As major industry developments have shown, the position of telecom and datacom carriers is being challenged. Internet giants Amazon, Facebook and Google are moving into the connectivity arena, which until recently, has been dominated by traditional carriers. The new kids on the block are in the process of gobbling up the content supply chain between themselves and the end user. Their coffers are filled to the brim with money for investing in the newest technology and marketing to connect with consumers.

Amazon is extending its cloud services with networking and content delivery. Amazon CloudFront integrates with other Amazon Web Services products to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no minimum usage commitments.

Facebook is one of the founding partners of Internet.org, a collaboration between the private sector, nonprofits and local communities that is working to bring the internet to the two thirds of the world’s population without connectivity. Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is exploring a variety of technologies, including high-altitude long-endurance planes, satellites and lasers. Facebook just built a gigantic solar-powered drone that will stay in the stratosphere for months at a time, beaming broadband to rural and hard-to-reach areas. The drone, called Aquila, is one of the outcomes of the Connectivity Lab. The technology may be years away from being used widely in the field — Facebook doesn’t have an exact timeline yet.

Google is on the same track. The company made progress last year with Project Loon, which is designed to bring wireless networks to remote areas of Africa and Asia using high-altitude balloons and blimps. It has already launched a pilot project in New Zealand (the balloons are currently heading to South America), using stratospheric winds to move giant rings of balloons to the areas that need it most. Also, Google is laying a subsea fibre connection between Oregon and Japan. The US$300 million FASTER cable system, backed by Google and East Asian telecom firms, will have a peak capacity of 60 Tbps (terabits per second) when it’s ready next year.

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