After scraping ideas for its internet-beaming drone called Aquila, last month, the social network is brewing a new project. The project includes an internet satellite named Athena. It will provide broadband internet connections to “unserved areas.” Several FCC documents have been uncovered that confirms this project.
According to FCC documents, the project initiated in 2016 and will most probably launch in early 2019. Athena will be a small lower-orbit satellite that will beam internet down to Earth utilizing only a few millimeters of radio wave signals. The plan is to launch a network of a thousand or more small satellites into low orbits of the Earth.
Facebook confirmed the project quoting “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.”
This is not the social network company’s first initiative to bring internet to areas without any sort of access. They were supposed to launch an internet satellite to certain parts of Africa back in 2016. They lost the project after a SpaceX rocket that took off failed during the testing phase.
Facebook might face some challenges with this project. It has to make sure if people are really interested in internet-related work in areas where they are planning to launch such expensive projects. Not everyone will want to be digitally literate or even use Facebook or the internet at all. Also, lower orbit satellites require connections and networks of a thousand or more satellites to actually function to beam internet access. This is quite an expensive feat for any company no matter the amount of funding.
But nonetheless, it will be a resourceful project even though ambitious. Although Facebook has a user base of 2 billion users, the company needs to strive to find new users to keep their business flourishing.