Economy, Sci & Tech

Facebook to Offer Satellite Internet for Africa

Facebook to Offer Satellite Internet for AfricaFacebook to Offer Satellite Internet for Africa

Satellite provider Eutelsat and social media network Facebook announced on Monday they are to partner on a new initiative that will leverage satellite technologies to millions of African homes.

Under the multi-year joint plant with Spacecom, a global satellite communication company operating the AMOS satellite, the three companies will utilize the entire broadband spectrum on the AMOS-6 satellite and will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals, according to the company's press release.

The first of its kind system will beam super-fast Internet to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Scheduled for start of service in the second half of 2016, the Ka-band payload on the AMOS-6 geostationary satellite is configured with high gain spot beams covering large parts of West, East and Southern Africa.

The capacity is optimized for community and Direct-to-User Internet access using affordable, off-the-shelf customer equipment. According to the terms of the agreement, the capacity of data will be shared between Eutelsat and Facebook together.

The recent announcement comes after Facebook launched its much maligned project that received lots of criticism from Internet experts for the social media pushing its sales agenda on poor web users.

Although it's now reaching hundreds of millions of people, the company has been accused of pushing its services and controlling what they can access. To help distinguish its app from the wider initiative, Facebook rebranded the app as "Free Basics by Facebook" and added 60 new services from developers who had signed up to the project.

“Our 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

It is not known whether the social media giant aims to offer more satellite Internet connections over the longer period. However, the best way to connect the poor of the world is by satellite, as it has the broadest reach in terms of connectivity.

The user needs to have, like regular satellite, a satellite dish, a low-noise block down-converter (LNB) and a modem, all of which can be purchased for a low price apart from the LNB.

There has been no response from the African Internet providers that will likely be affected by this new low-cost Internet offer. Companies like MTN are the ones who will likely be hit the most by the potential groundbreaking deal.

Up until recently, satellite has been a rare luxury with only a handful of companies offering the service to select broadcast zones.