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Facebook has inked a deal with French satellite giant Eutelsat which will see the two partnering to provide internet services to under-served areas across Africa, including South Africa.
According to a press release issued by Eutelsat, the multi-year deal the two companies will utilise the entire broadband payload on the AMOS-6 satellite, slated for launch later this year, and will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.
“Using state of the art satellite technology,” Eutelsat says in the press release, it and Facebook “will each deploy Internet services designed to relieve pent-up demand for connectivity from the many users in Africa beyond range of fixed and mobile terrestrial networks”.
“Satellite networks,” it adds, “are well suited to economically connecting people in low to medium density population areas and the high throughput satellite architecture of AMOS-6 is expected to contribute to additional gains in cost efficiency”.
The deal could prove vital to Facebook as it looks to roll out its Internet.org initiative across Africa.
Read more: Facebook launches Internet.org in Malawi
“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa,” said Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org. “We are looking forward to partnering with Eutelsat on this project and investigating new ways to use satellites to connect people in the most remote areas of the world more efficiently.”
The deal also however shows how crucial satellites are becoming as a source of internet connectivity. It’s no accident that Eutelsat also used the opportunity to announce that it will establish a new company based in London that will steer its African broadband vision and business. The company will be led by Laurent Grimaldi, founder and former CEO of Tiscali International Network, and will focus on serving premium consumer and professional segments.