Mark Zuckerberg is determined to get his free internet plan into Africa, and Facebook’s deal with Eutelsat makes it look like his dream is about to come true. The two companies will be collaborating with Spacecom to use the entire broadband capacity on the future AMOS-6 satellite to project the internet into sub-Saharan Africa.
Ultimately, the internet package will cover some 14 African countries. The AMOS-6 will broadcast a signal compatible with off-the-shelf equipment, although one would suspect that sort of gear isn’t readily available in the targeted areas. However, Facebook says that satellites are the most efficient method of delivering the internet to sparsely populated regions. The company has already deployed a free internet connection in rural India through similar means.
Despite the seemingly altruistic nature of the work, Facebook has faced criticism over its handling of the free internet. The Internet.org project rapidly lost backers and partners after accusations of Facebook controlling what people could access through its network. As such, it was renamed “Free Basics by Facebook” and is in the process of recovering its lost support.
Facebook isn’t just doing this to spread the internet. Bringing more people online would give the social media giant access to millions more users, which would bring in even more ad revenue. It isn’t entirely a bad thing, but Facebook should simply own up to its actual plan instead of hiding behind the veil of doing good work.