Facebook is planning to launch its own satellite called Athena in early 2019, reported by WIRED. The development was confirmed by the Federal Communications Commission and Facebook both to the WIRED.
According to the social media platform, the new network will “efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world”. Facebook has been working on this since July 2016, as speculated by IEEE spectrum.
In a statement shared with the WIRED, Facebook spokesperson said that, “While we have nothing to share about specific projects at this time, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent.”
The social media giant joins Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Softbank-backed OneWeb, in working towards making internet accessible to the world through satellite communication with this. SpaceX has already launched the first two of its Starlink satellites this February.
Facebook has been long working at making the internet accessible to the rest of the remote areas of the world but has been meeting with controversies ever since 2015 when Free Basics got prohibited in India in 2016.
Facebook’s most recent endeavour was Aquila, the solar-powered drone that was supposed to provide internet connectivity to remote areas of the world. Facebook said that it will no longer build aircrafts as a lot of aerospace companies are already doing so but will continue to work towards the cost.
Athena has a tough road in front of it as being a low altitude satellites, its going to require a network of thousands of satellites to work which is going to both logistically challenging and high on the cost front.