Facebook just made a big move to help it beam the internet down to earth

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Monday that it will be partnering with satellite company Eutelsat to beam internet around the world.

Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page, “over the last year Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky” in an effort to give people in more remote regions internet connection.

Facebook was originally interested in purchasing Titan Aerospace, the maker of solar powered drones, to beam the internet to people living in remote regions. But after offering $US60 million for the company, Google swiped Titan Aerospace away for an undisclosed amount (it will now operate under Alphabet).

But now Facebook is back in the internet-beaming business. Eutelsat, the company Facebook is partnering with for the project, is providing Facebook with access to their satellite Amos-6. The Amos-6 satellite will 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,” Zuckerberg writes on his Facebook page. “We’re going to work with local partners across these regions to help communities begin accessing internet services provided through satellite.”

Here’s a closer look at how Facebook’s newest partner operates.

Eutelsat is a French-based satellite operator that was first created in 1977 and has 39 operating satellites

Eutelsat/ Corporate Brochure

Eutelsat was originally set up as a telecommunications infrastructure for Europe in 1977. When Eutelsat was first set up, they were an intergovernmental organisation. In 1983, the company launched their first satellite, which was used for telecommunications and TV. They became a private company in 2001.

Eutelsat now covers 150 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. The satellites are used for broadband services, data connectivity, satellite newsgathering and video broadcasting.

Eutelsat covers 274 million cable and satellite TV homes

Wikimedia Commons/ Japinderum
Members of Eutelsat are highlighted in green, as of 2013.

Eutelsat broadcasts 5,800 television channels and 1,250 radio stations. They have teleports in France, Italy, Madeira and Mexico that provides broadband and broadcast services.

Eutelsat is planning on launching three new satellites this quarter

Facebook

The new satellites will provide main geographic coverage to Russia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Latin America. Two other satellites are set for release for the second half of 2016 and first half of 2017, which will cover Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, respectively.

Eutelsat has a consolidated revenue of 1,476 million pounds ($2,237 million)

Facebook

Eutelsat's revenue has increased 9.5 per cent from Fiscal Year 2013-14 to Fiscal Year 2014-15, with an outlook growth of 4 to 6 per cent for the next fiscal year. For Fiscal Year 2014-15, video applications accounted for 63 per cent of revenue, data services accounted for 16 per cent of revenue and government services accounted for 14 per cent. The other revenue streams were labelled 'value added services' and 'other and non-recurring revenue.'

The Department of Defence awarded Eutelsat America Corp. almost $494 million July 2014

Facebook

The funding is for the Hosted Payload Solutions program, which was awarded to 14 space companies to place military payloads on commercial satellites. The purpose of the contract is 'to provide a rapid and flexible means for the government to acquire commercial hosting capabilities for government payloads,' according to the statement. The payloads provide the Air Force with timely and lower cost access to space for certain capabilities.

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