Washington: Social networking giant Facebook has announced its plans to launch a satellite that will provide internet access to remote parts of Africa.
The company is teaming up with French-based satellite operator Eutelsat in an attempt to deliver free Internet to sub-Saharan Africa using an AMOS-6 satellite.
Facebook hopes the first satellite will be launched next year and service will start in the second half of 2016, where it will reach 14 countries in West, East and Southern Africa.
“We're going to keep working to connect the entire world even if that means looking beyond our planet,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
The initiative is part of Facebook's Internet.org project, which has come under criticism earlier this year, when a group of companies withdrew their support for the project in India.
“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, in a statement.
While critics argued that Internet.org violates net neutrality principles by prioritizing content from partners, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the project, claiming that it's 'better to have some access than none at all.'
Earlier in July, Facebook unveiled a new custom drone it is building to bring internet to hard-to-reach and underserved locations.