Facebook on Monday (5 October) announced its partnership with French satellite provider Eutelsat to start delivering internet access in Africa through a high throughput satellite system. The two companies have signed a multi-year agreement with Spacecom to utilise its AMOS-6 satellite to deliver internet access.
The social networking giant said that it will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals that will all jointly help in delivering internet access in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Using Ka-band payload on the AMOS-6 geostationary satellite from space, internet access will be delivered in the country sometime in the second half of 2016. The capacity is claimed to be optimised for community and Direct-to-User internet access and the satellite is configured with high-gain spot beams to cover various large parts of West, East and Southern Africa.
Africa is from where Facebook had started the journey of its Internet.org initiative two years ago, which recently became Free Basics Platform. The platform was designed to offer select internet-based services for free to users across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
"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," said Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org. "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."
France-headquartered Eutelsat is additionally in development to establish a new company in London from where it will kick-start the development of steering its African broadband vision. The new company will be led by Laurent Grimaldi, founder and former CEO of Tiscali International Network.
"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," said Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat chairman and CEO. "Eutelsat's strong track record in operating High Throughput Satellite systems will ensure that we can deliver accessible and robust Internet solutions that get more users online and part of the Information Society."
The new development comes barely a week after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed his interest to work with the United Nations to bring internet to Syrian refugee camps. Zuckerberg had also met Indian PM Narendra Modi in September to discuss the expansion of internet and his social network in emerging markets like India and Africa.