Facebook Inc said it would launch a satellite in partnership with France’s Eutelsat Communications to bring Internet access to large parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
The satellite, part of Facebook’s Internet.org platform to expand internet access mainly via mobile phones, is under construction and will be launched in 2016, the companies said on Monday.
The satellite, called AMOS-6, will cover large parts of West, East and Southern Africa, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
“To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies,” Zuckerberg said.
The Internet.org platform offers free access to pared-down web services, focused on job listings, agricultural information, healthcare and education, as well as Facebook’s own social network and messaging services.
Growth in the number of people with access to the Internet is slowing, and more than half the world’s population is still offline, the United Nations Broadband Commission said last month.
Facebook has nearly 20 million users in major African markets Nigeria and Kenya, statistics released by it showed last month, with a majority using mobile devices to access their profiles.
The company opened its first African office in Johannesburg in June.
Tech news website The Information reported in June that Facebook had abandoned plans to build a satellite to provide Internet service to continents such as Africa.
(Reporting by Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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