PALO ALTO, CA- Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) The social networking giant is set to beam free internet to Africa using satellites orbiting around Earth.
Facebook keeps its focus straight and is now closer than ever to its goal, which is connecting people by providing internet to underdeveloped countries and distant parts of the world.
Yesterday, the company announced its new partnership with Eutelsat, a French satellite operator. The two of them will provide broadband internet to sub-Saharan Africa with some extra help from Spacecom, which will be providing the AMOS-6 satellite. It is expected to come online during the second half of 2016.
This is the latest achievement regarding Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, which hopes to provide internet to all underserved countries. The company has even launched projects with solar powered drones as a way of delivering internet connections to developing areas. The service was first launched in Africa in 2013 and is now available in nineteen countries.
Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org, stated:
“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa. We are looking forward to partnering with Eutelsat on this project and investigating new ways to use satellites to connect people in the most remote areas of the world more efficiently.”
There are also those who oppose to Facebook’s plans, claiming that it may hinder net neutrality, or that the company is driven by profit, rather than philanthropy.
For the record, according to a UN report, 57% of the world’s population still lack reliable internet connectivity and 90% of those people actually reside in the poorest countries of the world. Internet access has been provided almost all across Africa, but it is expensive.
So Eutelsat’s statement stood more as a spontaneous response, stating that its collaboration with Facebook will ultimately allow users to connect to the internet through “affordable, off-the-shelf” hardware. Google is also entering the game and has now started researching new ways to deliver internet connection to the “next billion” offline users.
Facebook could possibly have some profit by providing cheap internet to underdeveloped countries but at the same time, the company could definitely drain more profit by investing more resources on improving its services. So perhaps it’s all done for the money, or maybe Facebook really is all about the poor people, or maybe a part of both.
All we know for now is that the Sub-Saharan Africa will finally gain access to the internet thanks to the social networking colossus, and that’s what ultimately matters the most.