Facebook, French sat operator in SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA

Hello Sub-Saharans, this is Zuck calling

Facebook has inked a deal with Eutelsat Communications to beam internet access to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Financial terms of the agreement were kept secret.

Eutelsat said this morning that the companies had signed a "multi-year" pact with Spacecom to "utilise the entire broadband payload on the future AMOS-6 satellite", with the service expected to go live in the second half of next year.

The free content ad network and French satellite operator plan to build a system made up of sat capacity, gateways and terminals.

Facebook said it wanted to help to bring broadband access to "unconnected populations" as part of the firm's Internet.org initiative.

Last month, however, Facebook was forced to rebrand the services it was offering under Internet.org, after it became clear that very few websites would be served to parts of the world where broadband connectivity remains virtually non-existent.

Eutelsat, meanwhile, said it would set up a new company in London to oversee its African biz strategy. The operator added that it would serve rich folk in the region, or – as Eutelsat preferred to frame it – "premium consumer and professional segments."

The company claimed that it would "deliver accessible and robust internet solutions" to more people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eutelsat said:

The capacity is optimised for community and Direct-to-User internet access using affordable, off-the-shelf customer equipment. According to the terms of the agreement, the capacity will be shared between Eutelsat and Facebook.

The deal comes a few months after Mark Zuckerberg's company reportedly abandoned its multi-billion dollar plan to beam its Internet.org walled garden via satellite to less-connected parts of the world. ®

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