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Facebook opens European engineering centre

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Social networking giant Facebook this week opened its first engineering centre outside of the US. A team of around 20 employees will be based in Facebook’s Covent Garden office in London, which to date has only housed advertising, sales, support and public affairs staff.

Facebook began searching for employees in July, with the first recruits presently being initiated at the company’s California headquarters.

The UK unit is tasked with building products in key areas like mobile and platform. With over a billion users now online, the company needs to find new ways to monitise its services.

Europe is clearly on Facebook’s radar. Earlier this year, the company began investing in its own European fibre network, to cope with huge increases in traffic on internal systems. At the time, Erik Hallberg, president at TeliaSonera International Carrier, which is building the network for Facebook, explained that the infrastructure will be used to backhaul traffic between its newly-built datacentre in Sweden‑‑the hub of its European operation‑‑and datacentres elsewhere. The company has already set up long distance links to provide capacity between its European and US datacentres.

“Facebook is processing enormous amounts of data per user, and it needs to sort it and share it with everyone,” Hallberg said. “This will be the main place for Facebook to aggregate data for European and Middle East users. It needs a network to take traffic back and forth and make data accessible to Facebook users.

Projections from Informa show that there will be a huge upsurge in traffic for most mobile data services over the next five years, largely driven by the spread of smartphones and a 23 per cent increase in the number of mobile users.

“The top three data guzzlers on mobile phones over the next five years will be applications, video streaming and web browsing – in that order of importance,” said Guillermo Escofet, senior analyst. He added that global mobile data traffic will grow from 3.89 trillion MB in 2011 to 39.75 trillion MB in 2016, amounting to a tenfold increase.

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