Facebook Is Developing Its Own Internet Satellite, Reportedly Launching Next Year

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The emails reveal that the company hopes to have it launched by early 2019.

Recently in June, Facebook had announced its decision to drop the plan of developing Aquila (high-flying solar-powered drones) that was made for providing internet to around 4 billion underserved people in remote and therefore technologically backward areas of the world.

Exchanges between the Federal Communications Commission and Facebook representatives over the last couple of years, uncovered by WIRED, refer to a "small satellite experimental application" for the satellite, which was confirmed by spokespersons of the company this week.

The secrecy is expected, considering Facebook is not alone in trying to launch Internet satellites.

SpaceX plans to launch a network of satellites to provide internet around the planet.

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However, as detailed reports in the technical press suggest, if the "Facebook" satellite is a singleton then its downlink time will be limited to eight minutes per overhead pass, and to even begin global coverage it would have to have "thousands" of orbiting satellites in operation.

With this, Facebook has quite suitably positioned itself in the ranks of Softbank-funded OneWeb and Elon Musk's Starlink to set up a satellite-based low-priced broadband connectivity project. They also detail meetings between FCC officials and lawyers from a firm Facebook appears to have hired.

Athena would likely be a part of Facebook's Internet.org program, which provides regions of the world that lack Internet access with an online connection. In 2017, the solar-powered drone successfully completed the second full-scale test flight. Elon Musk's Space X and SoftBank supported, OneWeb are two other major companies, who have similar ambitions.

Other than internet satellites, tech companies are also working on alternative options to beam radios. Its objective is to connect millions of deprived people to the Internet. The company predicts that in 2025 it will have a base of 40 million subscribers and Dollars 30 billion in revenue from this project.

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