Facebook, the social networking giant, has revealed it plans to send satellites into space, the first of which is planned for 2016, according to its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
This is part of the company’s Internet.org project, which is experimenting with different ways in which the internet can be provided to hard-to-reach places.
Partnering with Eutelsat, a French firm, it is hoped the Amos-6 satellite will provide web access to large parts of Africa by the second half of next year, connecting millions more people together. The satellite is currently under construction.
This initiative aims to provide affordable internet access through the use of existing satellite technology, although it is not designed to offer the whole internet free to everyone, instead acting as a platform for people to see the benefits of the internet. Facebook has explored different ways satellites and aircraft can beam internet access down to communities over the last year.
Internet.org has its critics, particularly in India, where businesses argued that Facebook and its partners would receive an unfair advantage in the development of internet markets.
“We and our critics share a common vision of helping more people gain access to the broadest possible range of experiences and services on the internet,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
“We believe this so strongly that we have worked with operators to offer basic services to people at no charge, convinced that new users will quickly want to move beyond basic services and pay for more diverse, valuable services.”