Facebook, Eutelsat, Spacecom Eye Internet via Satellite in Africa

Facebook and communications satellite operator Eutelsat Communications took a big step toward connecting sub-Saharan Africa to the Internet.

Facebook and communications satellite operator Eutelsat Communications took a big step toward connecting sub-Saharan Africa to the Internet.

The social network and Eutelsat Monday announced a multiyear agreement with global satellite communications company Spacecom for the entire broadband payload on the latter’s upcoming AMOS-6 satellite, which is scheduled to be operational in the second half of next year.

The companies said they will build a dedicated system of satellite capacity, gateways and terminals to bring data connectivity to the region, adding that the geostationary satellite’s Ka-band payload is configured with high-gain spot beams that can provide coverage to “large parts” of west, east and southern Africa.

Eutelsat and Facebook said in a release announcing the deal with Spacecom:

Satellite networks 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.

Eutelsat also announced that it will establish a new London-based company to oversee its broadband efforts in Africa, to be led by former Tiscali International Network founder and CEO Laurent Grimaldi.

Chris Daniels, vice president of Internet.org, the initiative spearheaded by Facebook to bring Internet access to the entire world, said in the release:

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. 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.

Eutelsat Chairman and CEO Michel de Rosen added:

We are excited by this opportunity to accelerate the deployment of our broadband strategy and to partner with Facebook on a new initiative to provide Internet-access services in Africa. Eutelsat’s strong track record in operating high-throughput satellite systems will ensure that we can deliver accessible and robust Internet solutions that get more users online and part of the Information Society.


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.