A while ago, Facebook gave up on their own passenger jet-sized, solar powered drones to provide internet access in remote stretches of the world.
According to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by Wired, the FCC had a multiple visits by Facebook’s representatives, and it is all but confirmed that Facebook is going to launch a low-orbit satellite with an intent to provide Internet access to remote places of the world. Wired says…
The emails show that the social network wants to launch Athena, its very own internet satellite, in early 2019. The new device is designed to “efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world,” according to an application the social network appears to have filed with the FCC under the name PointView Tech LLC.
With the filing, Facebook joins Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Softbank-backed OneWeb, two well-funded organizations working on similar projects. In fact, SpaceX launched the first two of what it hopes will be thousands of its Starlink satellites just this past February.
This will not be Facebook’s first attempt at Athena. Back in 2016, they were ready to launch, but SpaceX rocket carrying the satellite blew up, and destroyed the satellite, causing a loss of some 95 million USD.
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Facebook’s aim with this project is to bring Internet access to place where it is not available. It is pretty slow, but they are bring broadband connectivity to rural regions. However, it is conveniently usually the only social media site available through Free Basics without paying additional fees (there isn’t even an email provider). This allows to gain a better foothold in some places, and Internet.org was even banned in India because of this.
Facebook told Wired….
While we have nothing to share about specific projects at this time, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent.