Social networking giant Facebook has announced that it will build a new data center in northern Sweden in support of the rapid global growth of its website. The new data center, located in Lulea, Sweden, will be Facebook's first facility outside the US.

Facebook representatives say that the small seaside town is located at approximately the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska and its climate will allow Facebook to use outside air to cool the tens of thousands of servers that will occupy the new data center campus.

Facebook is actually planning to build multiple data centers in Lulea, beginning with a 290,000 square-foot first phase that will be completed in late 2012. That first phase build-out is expected to begin supporting traffic by 2013.

The new Lulea data center will be powered by renewable energy, a change from the social network's data centers in Oregon and North Carolina, which rely on utility power that originates from coal.

The expansion of the company's infrastructure outside of the U.S. reflects the increasingly global makeup of Facebook's user base. More than 75 percent of the website's 800 million registered users are now located outside the United States. Building data centers closer to their user base can improve the overall Facebook experience for those living outside of the United States.

'It's the next step in our ongoing strategy of building our own infrastructure and moving away from leased facilities,' said company spokesman Michael Kirkland. 'We are expecting this data center to continue to help us reduce latency for our users in Europe and beyond.'

Sweden is ranked second in the world for its telecommunications infrastructure by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In Lulea, economic development officials have been marketing the region as a data center destination due to its combination of a cool climate, strong connectivity and plentiful supply of cheap, renewable energy. So, there is clearly reason to celebrate this news.

'This will be the first Facebook data center powered primarily by renewable power, primarily hydro,' said Kirkland. 'It's a really important consideration for us. Obviously, it's not the only consideration.'

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