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Facebook Is Building a 150-Mile Fiber Backbone Across Indiana

Facebook will have fiber running across the entire width of Indiana before 2022. The goal is to connect Facebook’s data centers, but providers may potentially lease excess capacity from the fiber for broadband solutions.

A work crew digging a trench for fiber-optic cable.
Last week, Facebook announced it now has 77 miles of fiber built across Indiana, with the construction of 85 more miles on the way. 

The 77-mile portion of the tech giant’s fiber backbone runs from the Indiana-Ohio border to downtown Indianapolis. The 85-mile portion, which is planned to be finished late this year, will run from Indianapolis to the Indiana-Illinois border. 

“This route will provide vital new connectivity to Wayne, Henry, Hancock, Marion, Hendricks, Putnam, Clay and Vigo counties,” Facebook said in its announcement. “This new route will provide important infrastructure for the state and surrounding region as they seek to boost economic growth, opportunity, and job creation.”

Although the backbone’s main purpose is to connect Facebook’s data centers, the company also sees potential for Internet service providers to extend middle-mile networks so that more people can have connectivity. Michelle Kohler, strategic sourcing manager at Facebook, told Fierce Telecom that Facebook is open to leasing excess capacity from its fiber route to local and regional companies.

While Facebook is “currently engaged in discussions with third parties about leasing opportunities in Indiana,” as reported by Fierce Telecom, the company doesn’t see itself as a competitor to businesses that specialize in long-haul fiber. 

“We build networks with the primary goal of meeting our own needs,” Kohler said. “Selling fiber is not our core business, and we view companies like those as partners. However, we want to help underserved areas, and where we can leverage underutilized capacity to improve connectivity through partners, we will.”

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.