Facebook is collaborating with communications company Viasat in its latest bid to deliver high-speed internet to rural communities.
Part of a project to make the internet accessible to more people in rural areas around the world, it aims to provide access to people that lack reliable internet or have no connectivity at all in parts of rural Mexico.
According to Viasat, the company has already brought internet connectivity to one million Mexican citizens through its satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi hotspot service. It is hoped that the collaboration with Facebook will accelerate this, enabling people to “connect with friends and family, share knowledge and access education and career opportunities”.
Visat is using Wi-Fi hotspots to boost rural internet access
The Viasat service requires minimal local infrastructure, meaning it is sustainable and rapidly scalable in emerging markets.
Viasat will place high-speed satellite Wi-Fi hotspots at thousands of rural locations which customers can access through a pre-paid service. Facebook is investing in the roll-out and working with Viasat to help identify optimal locations within Viasat’s current and planned satellite coverage.
The collaboration will initially focus on Mexico, bringing internet connectivity to remote regions of the country, but there is an opportunity to expand globally.
Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of Viasat said:
“Rural communities, especially in emerging markets, are often the hardest to serve economically, yet are a vivid example of how Viasat’s innovative space communication systems can bring broadband communication services to the places that need it most, at the lowest bandwidth costs. We are pleased with the support that Facebook is bringing to our initiative and excited about the opportunity to accelerate the pace at which we can scale.”
Over the past few years, Facebook has been involved with several initiatives to bring internet access to remote areas, Mark Zuckerberg declaring that he intends to connect the whole world to the internet.
In 2018, Facebook’s Project Aquila, in which it planned to use solar-powered drones to provide internet access, was abandoned after test flights were unsuccessful.