Facebook’s New Satellite Plan Will Bring Free Internet to Sub-Saharan Africa

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one step closer to fulfilling his dream of connecting every person on earth via the internet.

The Internet.org initiative headed by Facebook has partnered with French-based satellite operator Eutelsat in hopes of providing free internet service to sub-Sharan Africa.

Eutelsat announced Monday that they are using an AMOS-6 satellite, a geostationary satellite whose Ka-band spot beams will deliver broadband service to users, according to Mashable. The satellite is expected to become operational sometime in the latter half of 2016.

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Facebook and Eutelsat have entered into a multi-year agreement with Spacecom, an Israel-based satellite operator, to use the “entire broadband payload” of the satellite.

Zuckerberg’s initiative brings together tech innovators, nonprofits and local communities with a common goal of connecting the other two-thirds of the globe to the world wide web. Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org, released the following statement:

“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.”

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Sinch its launch in 2013, Internet.org has had a presence in a number of countries in Africa including Ghana, Zambia, Senegal, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Facebook’s initiative was scrutinized earlier this year when companies in India withdrew their support due to net neutrality concerns. The project has been criticized for violating net neutrality principles and endorsing content from partners. Zuckerberg defended the project, stating that it is “better to have some access than none at all.”

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