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October 7, 2015 1:35 pm

Facebook to Use Israeli Satellite to Provide Internet Access to Developing World

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Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: wiki commons.

Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: wiki commons.

The Internet is on its way to the poorer nations of our planet, and Israelis have reason to be proud: Facebook’s meteorically ambitious space program will employ an Israeli-built satellite to project the Internet globally.

In his ongoing campaign to ensure Internet connectivity to the peoples of the world, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday announced his company’s plan to launch a satellite by 2016 that will be able to connect users in the East, West and Southern Africa.

But unmentioned in Zuckerberg’s announcement was the fact that the currently-under-construction satellite, the AMOS-6, will be built by Israel Aerospace Industries.

“As part of our collaboration with Eutelsat, a new satellite called AMOS-6 is going to provide internet coverage to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The AMOS-6 satellite is under construction now and will launch in 2016 into a geostationary orbit that will cover large parts of West, East and Southern Africa. We’re going to work with local partners across these regions to help communities begin accessing internet services provided through satellite,” Zuckerberg posted to Facebook.

The satellite is part of Facebook’s initiative, which strives to provide free Internet to users’ mobile devices. For the satellite project, Facebook teamed up with Eutelsat Communications to “utilize the entire broadband payload on the future AMOS-6 satellite and will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals,” according to Eutelsat’s website.

The project stirred some controversy among critics who have pointed out that users will not be able to access the entire World Wide Web, but rather will be relegated to the few websites chosen by Facebook and its partners — creating “a ghetto for poor users instead of a stepping stone to the larger Internet.”

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