Facebook plans to beam free internet to Africa with a satellite

Delivering the internet from space

Facebook's plan to connect the least developed regions of the world took a step forward today as the company announced it's partnered with a company to beam internet from a satellite to parts of Africa.

The social network and French firm Eutelsat plan to use the satellite to send free internet services to sub-Saharan Africa, according to the New York Times. Facebook and Eutelsat will lease satellite capacity from Israeli company Spacecom.

Fourteen countries, including Nigeria, Tanzania and the Ivory Coast, will gain internet access from the satellite.

"Facebook's mission is to connect the world," Chris Daniels, vice president of Internet.org, said in a statement to the Times. "We believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa."

Internet.org has come under fire from some who think Facebook simply wants to expand its reach and lock people into the social network's ecosystem. The criticism clearly isn't slowing Internet.org down, however, and Facebook has addressed some of its critics with the Free Basics by Facebook platform, which lets third-party developers take part in the initiative.

The satellite should start its earthly orbit in the second half of 2016.

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News Editor (US)

As the US News Editor, Michelle (Twitter, Google+) keeps her eye on all things tech with particular interest on phones, tablets and finding out who the people are behind the devices. Any phone that can survive a regular (accidental) drop has her vote for best handset. Michelle previously worked covering local news in the Bay Area and has been with TechRadar since July 2012.