Facebook has made some pretty bold statements in recent weeks, and to back up their claims, they have entered into a partnership with French satellite company Eutelsat Communications. This partnership is in light to the claims Facebook has made regarding their efforts of providing internet access to developing regions and markets. The initiative taken by Facebook is going to take a couple of years to develop completely, and the scheduled launch is expected to be towards the end of 2016. They are looking to use satellite technology in order to provide internet access to people from third world countries, especially the African nations. To achieve this goal, they plan to use the AMOS-6 satellite built by Israel Aerospace Industries.
The partnership between the social media giant and Eutelsat is focused on creating a system that aims to bring internet connectivity and access to large regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. The system is going to use off-the-shelf, affordable customer equipment for optimizing internet access on a community and individual level.
A new project on the horizon
To oversee this venture, Eutelsat will launch a new London-based company. Meanwhile, Facebook will work with local partners in order to help deliver internet access to large parts of Africa. The current mission is to connect the world and that is why satellites are being considered in addressing the barriers that they face in connecting the people of Africa to the rest of the Internet at large. The VP of Facebook’s internet program Internet.org, Chris Daniels, is excited to use satellites along with Eutelsat to connect people located in the toughest and hard-to-reach areas of the world.
This latest project seems to be gaining pace, as Eutelsat already provides satellite services to many parts of Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East. The company is based in Paris and was founded in 1977, and currently has more than 39 satellites that orbit the Earth and provide cable networks, radio and TV coverage to thousands all around the world.
Targeting Emerging Markets
Facebook already has an estimated 1.5 billion monthly active users, and it is still looking to target emerging markets to grow its services to even larger scales. The launch of Internet.org in 2013 by Facebook was seen as a move to help connect Facebook to the next 5 billion users and it was marketed through mobile-focused means such as Qualcomm, Microsoft and Samsung. It has started a number of projects since then, which include a launch in India in February this year to provide internet access to millions of new users in the region.
However, there has been a lot of criticism directed towards Internet.org, which only allows users to gain access to select websites free of charge. These include Facebook and a couple of local websites, and the main complaint was that it compromised net neutrality and it allowed Facebook to dictate what content is made available through its mobile website and free app. Facebook has since responded to the allegations and criticism and renamed the internet.org website and apps as ‘Free Basics by Facebook’ and also opened up more web and developers services.