Facebook confirms plans to beam free internet to Africa
Facebook has previously confirmed that the use of satellites will play a large role in the deliverance of its free internet initiative,and today the social network confirmed that it has teamed up with Eutelsat ( a French communications specialist) to beam connectivity to more than 14 Sub-Saharan African countries.
Facebook, alongside Eutelsat and Israeli firm Spacecomm, aims to use the entire broadband payload on the AMOS-6 satellite to deliver connectivity to densely populated areas in Sub-Saharan Africa.
AMOS-6 is scheduled to launch later this year, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX has additionally confirmed that the satellite will be escorted into orbit using the company’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Facebook hopes to begin transmissions by the second half of 2016, with the intent of connecting those who are out of reach of either fixed or mobile networks.
Earlier this year, the Internet.org initiative – which Facebook co-created alongside the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Qualcomm – launched in Zambia and Tanzania, as well as Kenya. Subsequently, users in these regions are now able to access a variety of different services – including AccuWeather, BBCNews, Facebook Messenger, and Wikipedia for free.
Following being accused of violating several net neutrality rules by users in India, Facebook overhauled the Internet.org platform, giving access to third party developers such as BabyCenter for pregnancy and parenting information, as well as SmartBusiness for novice entrepreneurs, and re-branded the Internet.org app to Free Basics by Facebook to distinguish it from the larger Internet.org initiative.
Further to beaming broadband internet via satellite, Facebook is additionally constructing Aquila – a 140 foot solar-powered unmanned plan that is capable of delivering internet from 60,000 to 90,000 feet.
Facebook, however, is not the only company interested in delivering free, accessible internet; Google’s Project Loon, which recently launched in Sri Lanka, will also deliver a free internet connection through tethered weather balloons.
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s latest initiative? Let us know in the comments below!