Facebook’s secretive, ambitious plans to build satellites that would bring Internet service to the world’s poorest countries has reportedly been cancelled. Amir Efrati of The Information reports Facebook is canceling its plan to launch a satellite, which could have cost as much as $1 billion. No sources are named for the story, but The Information says the news came from a person with direct knowledge of the project and another individual briefed about it.
The satellite was part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, which aims to bring widespread Internet access to countries with developing economies (and increase Facebook’s market share in those new markets in the process). This past September, Facebook poached satellite Internet expert Michael Tseytlin from Google; he was reportedly hired to work on satellite Internet initiatives at Facebook’s connectivity lab.
Last March, Mark Zuckerberg said that the Connectivity Lab is experimenting with “Drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone.”
Early in 2015, SpaceX raised $1 billion from Google and Fidelity for a satellite Internet project of its own. Both Facebook and Google are trying to figure out how to bring Internet access to emerging economies while dealing with increasingly cumbersome infrastructure, R&D, and legal costs. Google put their own, in-house satellite plans on hold this year as well.