Facebook Has Scrapped A Secret Plan To Launch Satellite That Would Beam Cheap Internet

Facebook had an ambitious and secret plan of launching a company owned satellite that would beam down cheap internet. However, the social media giant scrapped the plan even before it was announced.

In an attempt to offer cheap internet access to the developing countries and its internet-deprived citizens, Facebook engineers had developed a plan to launch an exclusive satellite. Had the satellite been launched, it would have provided cheap internet access in the developing world. However, the secret may have been scrapped due to the astronomical cost involved in funding the development and launch of a satellite.

The envisioned satellite-based internet would have cost Facebook an estimated $500 million. Though Facebook hasn’t confirmed or denied the news, sources indicate the price tag apparently proved prohibitive, and the ambitious plan had to be quietly shelved even before the company announced their lofty intentions, reported The Information.

The Internet is undoubtedly the next frontier. Although developed countries take it for granted, many nations are still struggling to get a decent and stable internet connection. Tariff costs are a burden too, making internet access a relatively prized and rare commodity. Having recognized the opportunity, Facebook has been at the forefront of bringing the internet to impoverished nations through various initiatives.

Facebook wants to bring the internet and in-tow access to its products to more people, thereby boosting its user count that would draw advertisers. One of the key initiatives is Facebook’s Internet.org, which involves telecom companies and Internet Service Providers (ISP), offering subsidized data rates in certain countries.

Similarly, Facebook recently launched an ultra-light app called Facebook Lite. The Android app is designed to use very little data bytes and still offer a fulfilling social networking experiencing. Though not official, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had openly toyed with the idea of using modern-day satellites to further the Internet.org movement, but it seems this plan wasn’t exactly related.

The report is based on “a person with direct knowledge of the project and a person briefed about it,” and it reveals that if the device was launched, it would have been a pretty standard geostationary satellite that would have enhanced internet access. Exactly how the satellite would have linked-up with earth-based last-mile ISPs wasn’t clear, though.

Is Facebook giving up on the dedicated satellite for cheap internet? Not exactly. However, this time the company will take a more mainstream approach of leasing satellite time and bandwidth in case it is still quite serious about being an ISP for the internet-deprived part of the world.

[Image Credit | Getty Images, Facebook]

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