Facebook is going to provide internet from space
Facebook and Eutalsat (a French company that provides satellite communication services) announced a partnership in which they will be working on a new initiative to give more African people access to the internet. To make this happen the companies launch a satellite, called the AMOS-6, in the second half of 2016.
This new initiative is part of Facebooks other initiative called Internet.org.
Internet.org is an initiative lead by Facebook
which main task is to provide an internet connection for two third of people living on earth that currently don’t have access to the internet. They try to do this with the help of big technology companies (like Samsung and Nokia), NGO’s and local companies. (internet.org, 2015)
The AMOS-6 satellite, which is still under construction, is being equipped with high gain spot beams. A spot beam is a
beam of radio signals directed to a specific area on earth (See picture) (techfaq, 2014), in this particular case the sub-sahara region. With this high gain spot beam the satellite is able to send an internet signal to millions
of people living in the sub-Sahara region. Internet.Org will work with the local partners in the region to help potential users get access.
Form of altruism or self just interest?
What is the main reason behind this initiative of Facebook? Is it really a form of altruism? No, not really. The free services offered by the internet.org initiative only offer a select number of free services. One of those services is Facebook. This is possible because these were the terms the local carriers (the service companies that provide the internet) agreed upon during negotiation with internet.org. Earlier this year a group of Indian publishers and companies (which also consists a lot of startup companies) removed their services from internet.org, because they think internet.org violates the basic principles of the internet, the internet neutrality. They believe that the services offered by internet.org have an advantage over other services that aren’t available on the app. (Lapowsky, 2015)
To conclude, it is a good thing Facebook is trying to make the world a better place. A world where everyone has a connection with the internet. But the reasons behind it are a little bit concerning. The only one that benefits from it are Facebook and its partners. The, mostly, poor people living in those ‘helped’ regions have never seen the internet before. They don’t know what it is and don’t know all the features and possibilities it consists of. By giving them connection with only a small number of free services the net neutrality, which is so ‘supported’ by Mr Zuckerberg’, is in danger. People never heard of the internet, but they sure know Facebook.
Eutelsat (2015), Eutelsat and Facebook to partner on satellite initiative to get more Africans online, http://news.eutelsat.com/pressreleases/eutelsat-and-facebook-to-partner-on-satellite-initiative-to-get-more-africans-online-1228638, 07-10-2015
HindustianTimes (2015), Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet, 17 april 2015
Internet.org (2015), https://internet.org/, 07-10-2015
Lapowsky (2015), Mark Zuckerberg Can’t Have It Both Ways on Net Neutrality, http://www.wired.com/2015/04/internet-org-zero-rating/, 08-10-2015
Shu, S. (2015), Facebook And Eutelsat Partner To Deliver Internet To Africa From Space, http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/06/facebookeutelsat/?ncid=rss&cps=gravity_1462_7901987268675740304, 07-10-2015
Tech-Faq (2015) http://www.tech-faq.com/spot-beam.html
Wall, M. (2015), Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg hits back in Internet.org India row, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32349480, 09-10-2015