Facebook and Eutelsat have announced a new initiative, using satellite to get more Africans online.
The two have signed a multiyear agreement with Spacecom, leasing the entire broadband payload on the planned AMOS-6 satellite, and building a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.
Capacity will be shared between Eutelsat and Facebook, which will run the service as part of its Internet.org initiative. Eutelsat is establishing a new company that be led by Laurent Grimaldi, founder and former CEO of Tiscali International Network, and will focus on serving premium consumer and professional segments.
Commenting on the agreement, Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat Chairman and CEO, said: “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. 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.”
For Facebook, this satellite system represents one of many technology investments to enable cost-effective broadband access to unconnected populations. Facebook plans to work with local partners across Africa to utilise satellite and terrestrial capacity to deliver services to rural areas.
“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.”
Internet.org currently includes free access to 60 services, including health and finance tools.
It’s anticipated the service will launch in the second half of 2016. The capacity is optimised for community and direct-to-user Internet access using affordable, off-the-shelf customer equipment.