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Facebook Satellite to Launch in 2016, Beam Internet to Africa

posted: 10/06/15
by: Danny Clemens
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A Facebook-funded satellite project will soon provide much of sub-Saharan Africa with wireless Internet access, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Monday afternoon.

The social networking behemoth and French communications satellite operator Eutelsat have entered into a multi-year agreement to lease the broadband payload of the forthcoming AMOS-6 satellite, which is set to launch in the back half of 2016.

"We're going to work with local partners across these regions to help communities begin accessing Internet services provided through satellite," Zuckerberg said in a post to his Facebook account.

Facebook satellite illustration
Mark Zuckerberg via Facebook

Eutelsat already has a wireless broadband network in sub-Saharan Africa, but the existing service is marketed for enterprise users, not consumers.

"We are excited by this opportunity to accelerate the deployment of our broadband strategy and to partner with Facebook on a new initiative to provide Internet access services in Africa," Eutelsat CEO Michael de Rosen said in a statement.

Until recently, Facebook was reportedly looking into developing, launching and operating its own satellite. Anonymous sources revealed to The Information that Facebook pulled out of the project due to its rising costs, but was still considering moving forward with a leased satellite.

The satellite is one facet of Zuckerberg's Internet.org initiative, which aims to "make affordable access to basic Internet services available to every person in the world."

Earlier this summer, Google announced an initiative that utilizes balloons floating through the stratosphere to bring wireless Internet access to remote areas of Sri Lanka.

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