Facebook, Eutelsat to Beam Free Internet to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016

Facebook Eutelsat partnership

Facebook Eutelsat partnership

Facebook declared its intentions to connect the “unplugged” world through a number of initiatives, of which Internet.org is their most known initiative. Internet.org is an initiative by the social networking giant to offer services like Facebook, news and weather information for free to the masses. This however means that these unplugged masses need to be connected to the usual terrestrial networks provided by telcos and this means the company had to look to another solution: Satellite

Facebook was reported to be testing huge drones that are solar powered and can fly above the normal altitude of the usual commercial planes (20km) for as long as three months. These drones were to offer users stronger connections thanks to the minimal interference. Also, Facebook was reportedly testing Laser beams in conjunction with drones so as to connect these unplugged communities. In a new development to realize this goal, Eutelsat Communications, a French company that offers satellite services announced that they are partnering with Facebook to offer data access to Sub Saharan Africa.

The two companies are planning to roll out the service in the second half of 2016 where they will use a specific satellite thanks to an agreement with Spacecom ( AMOS-6 geostationary satellite) that will be able to beam parts of West, East and Southern Africa. Eutelsat is also establishing a company based in London that will focus on the African market so as to provide the continent with broadband services.

This new development continues the mandate of the Internet.org initiative, which was recently renamed to Free Basics by Facebook in its quest to connect the next 1 billion people to Facebook.