amos-6 amos-6 The Amos-6 satellite from Israeli company Spacecom will beam free Internet to 14 countries in Africa. (Photo: Spacecom)

Facebook looks to outer space to bring free Internet to Africa

Social media giant partners with international satellite company to provide broadband access to 14 African countries.

Facebook's efforts to bring free Internet to rural areas of Africa took a big step forward with the announcement of a partnership with French satellite company Eutelsat.

Starting in the second half of 2016, the two companies will lease the AMOS-6 satellite from Israeli company Spacecom to beam broadband to 14 countries in West, East and Southern Africa. According to Spacecom, the new AMOS-6 will offer a powerful package of features for users on the ground, including high-definition television and broadband Internet.

"Over the last year Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky," Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the Silicon Valley-based social media giant, wrote on his personal profile page. "To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies."

To help spearhead the development of these new technologies, Facebook in 2013 partnered with six companies – including Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm – to form Internet.org. The nonprofit's mission, one that's close to Zuckerberg's heart, is to bring affordable Internet access to less developed countries. So far, the organization has given free access to 60 services (health, finance, news, Facebook, etc.) to people living in 20 countries.

"Connectivity changes lives and communities," Zuckerberg added in his post. "We’re going to keep working to connect the entire world – even if that means looking beyond our planet."

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