It’s no longer a secret, as Facebook is now officially said that it is building an internet satellite dubbed “Athena”, earlier, Facebook was experimenting secretly on the project, in May, Sleuths at IEEE spectrum has revealed that the satellite could send internet signal down to Earth using millimeter wave radio signal.
Facebook has confirmed to Wired that the satellite Athena is actually their project, and Facebook believes that internet satellite technology could help to reshape internet technology and connectivity on earth.
A Facebook’s spokesperson said, “We currently have nothing to share about the project and its details but we believe that satellite internet technology is critical in restructuring next-generation broadband infrastructure, it would help expand broadband availability to rural areas where there is a limited connectivity or even non-existent.”
However, Wired has more information about Facebook’s satellite; the company said it received the emails from FCC which indicate that Facebook is planning to launch “Athena” by early 2019, so it’s basically around the corner in other words.
However, there are still constraints; Athena, when launched, may not be able to deliver enough broadband coverage. Companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb had launched first internet satellites in February, the companies are still in the process of achieving their goals by launching several smaller satellites into low Earth orbit in order to build the whole “constellation” that could beam internet down to earth.
If that is the case, it would take several years for Facebook to develop a strong satellite broadband network that reaches every corner of rural areas. Facebook already had plans to send down internet via high altitude drones, but the company decided to shut down its drone plans in June, now Facebook is into satellites to send down internet from space, it would be interesting to see how Facebook will manage to deliver what they are after.