Facebook satellite aims to connect sub-Saharan Africa

6 Oct 2015

The construction of the AMOS-6 is underway. Image via Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Facebook has announced that it is to expand its Internet.org project – which aims to connect the entire world to the internet – with a new Facebook satellite to connect sub-Saharan Africa launching in the future.

Since the beginning of this year, the Internet.org project has been gathering pace, with the advancement of plans to launch hundreds of solar-powered drones, which will beam internet connection down to regions where internet access is poor or non-existent.

But now, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have confirmed that they have agreed a deal to launch a series of Facebook satellites into Earth’s orbit to expand its reach even further.

In a post to his Facebook page, Zuckerberg stated that the social network has partnered with the private European space company Eutelsat, based in France, who will build their new AMOS-6 satellite to provide the internet service.

It is envisioned that the two companies will utilise the entire broadband payload on the future satellite and will work to build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.


An illustration of the AMOS-6 satellite when it is completed. Image via Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Not to delay the mission, construction on the AMOS-6 satellite has already begun and is scheduled to begin service in the second half of 2016.

Zuckerberg has also confirmed that Facebook will begin working with local partners across sub-Saharan Africa to help the communities there begin accessing internet services provided through the AMOS-6 satellite.

Commenting on the agreement, Eutelsat’s chairperson and CEO Michel de Rosen 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.”

Facebook will join companies including SpaceX and Virgin, who plan to launch internet satellites into space to increase the number of people connected to the internet across the world.

Only half of the planet’s population has internet access.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic