Shortly after Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg pledged to help the UN in bringing internet access to refugee camps, the social network has announced it will bring broadband internet to sub-Saharan Africa thanks to a partner ship with Eutelsat, a French satellite operator. As the latest effort under Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, a satellite will bring internet access to over 14 nations in the most populated areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Facebook and Eutelsat will work with a third company, Spacecom, which specializes in satellite communications. They will be using the AMOS-6 satellite, which is scheduled to launch later this year on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX, and then go online sometime in the second half of 2016.
Eutelsat’s announcement of the project states that they aim to bring internet activity that is “optimized for community and Direct-to-User Internet access using affordable, off-the-shelf customer equipment.” Facebook adds that it will also be seeking out local partners to work with in delivering additional services.
Facebook’s Internet.org first launched in Africa in 2013, and the service already operates in 19 countries. In addition to bringing internet access to less developed nations via satellite, the initiative is also researching the use of solar-powered drones.
Internet.org hasn’t gone without criticism, however, as there’s been concerns the organization doesn’t stand for net neutrality and transparency, and that it forces users to rely on their own services and limits what they have access to.