On Thursday, the company that owns the worldwide social network Facebook made a huge step towards enabling rural and poor areas around the world to access the Internet. This is part of their ongoing efforts of connecting people and cultures around the globe by providing them with the technological means to do so.
As such, this week they tried to launch a satellite in the space that will beam Internet access to areas found in sub-Saharan Africa. The satellite represented a joint effort of Facebook and Eutelsat Communications SA, which is a French satellite operator. It was scheduled to be launched this Saturday on board of a Falcon 9 type of rocket whose concept was designed by Elon Musk’s company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Sadly, during one of the tests that were made before the launch, the satellite exploded. If it would have worked, it would have been capable of giving around 20 GB of data/second. Generally, satellites offer low amounts of data for very high costs. However, Mark Zuckerberg declared that though this setback is indeed saddening, his and his company’s goal of providing Internet to as many people as possible will not be abandoned.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, which belongs to the UN, 53% of the people in the world do not have access to Internet. However, Facebook is not the only company interested in achieving this goal. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. has been continuously testing other inventions that could be used for expanding connectivity worldwide.
One of their plans, for instance, called Project Loon, is based on balloons that can float somewhere between 60,000 and 75,000 feet above, bringing internet connections to areas below. They have been testing the balloons in areas above Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand and they are currently negotiating with telecom companies available in those countries. In Puerto Rico they launched a machine that is able to release a balloon in the air every half an hour.