Facebook decides space isn't its final frontier after all

Satellite project goes on back-burner: reports


Just days after it looked like the tech sector's love affair with satellite broadband was getting legs, Facebook has reportedly abandoned its spacefaring.

Various reports indicate that the billion-dollar plan to distribute the Facebook Internet.org walled garden via satellite has been abandoned, because The Social NetworkTM couldn't work out how to turn a dollar from the project.

Even with Internet.org planting Facebook's track-you-everywhere Datr cookie, a billion for satellites has turned out to be a bridge too far – perhaps because getting the birds in the air is only the start of delivering signals to humans on the ground.

The project has faced resistance in India, where its subset-of-the-Internet is seen as violating Internet neutrality.

While the paywalled story at The Information reckons Google has also exited the satellite biz before floating any birds, The Register notes that Mountain View's bird-partner SpaceX has just placed a request with the FCC to use spectrum for sat-comms experiments.

Those experiments don't represent any rush-to-space by Google. Mountain View's decision would rest not only on how the SpaceX experiments go – if they proceed at all – but on whether Google's happy with the progress of its Project Loon stratospheric balloon broadband efforts.

Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, can still play world-spanning supervillain with his Aquila drone fleet. That's cheaper than going all the way to space, and Facebook reckons infrared lasers will get it around the need to pick up spectrum licenses to land its signals. ®


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