Facebook satellite to beam internet to Africa from 2016

07/10/2015

Facebook is to launch a satellite in the second half of 2016 that will provide internet access to remote areas of Africa, under the controversial Internet.org scheme.

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In a post on the social network, Mark Zuckerberg said he hoped the move would connect "millions" to the internet.

The satellite, due to launch next year, is currently being built under a partnership with French firm Eutelsat.

It would allow mobile users to download an app containing free data access to selected services, including Facebook.

The decision underlines the scale of the billionaire's ambition to boost connectivity in emerging internet markets but the scheme has been met with opposition in many countries such as Uganda, India and Indonesia.

"I'm excited to announce our first project to deliver internet from space," founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

A partnership with French-based Eutelsat will see Facebook get shared access to the satellite. "To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies," Zuckerberg wrote.

The project forms part of the social network's controversialInternet.org initiative, which is seeking to get more people online in developing countries. Critics have argued the service violates net neutrality and is creating a closed, Facebook-centric version of the internet rather than providing open access for all.

To date Internet.org has launched in countries such as India, Indonesia, Colombia and Kenya. Until April 2015, it provided free access via mobile data networks to a limited number of basic websites and services, but after widespread protests in India this was expanded to any sites that met Facebook's development criteria.

Internet.org's new project will focus on sub-Saharan Africa, with its AMOS-6 satellite launching into a geostationary orbit to cover large parts of west, east and southern Africa. Zuckerberg said Facebook would work with local partners in the region to ensure communities could access internet services via satellite.

View Zuckerberg's Facebook post below:

I'm excited to announce our first project to deliver internet from space. As part of our Internet.org efforts to connect...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, 5 October 2015

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