Tuesday June 18, 2019
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Facebook set to beam free internet via satellite to Africans

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Ivorian youths look on November 19, 2009 at a cyber cafe in Abidjan at the country's Independent Electoral Commission website, featuring the provisional voter list for the long-awaited presidential election, initially due to take place on November 29. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo said on October 30 that the vote would be delayed, citing problems with the voting lists. And the Independent Electoral Commission confirmed on November 11 that the vote would be delayed without giving a new date. AFP PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

London/New York: Social networking site Facebook has announced a partnership with French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications to provide free high-speed internet to get more Africans online by next year.

Scheduled to be launched in 2016, the AMOS-6 satellite is configured with high gain spot beams covering large parts of west, east and southern Africa.

Under a multi-year agreement with global satellite communication company Spacecom, Facebook and Eutelsat will utilise the entire broadband payload on the AMOS-6 satellite and will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals, Eutelsat said in a statement on Monday.

In providing reach to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Eutelsat and Facebook will each be equipped to pursue their ambition to accelerate data connectivity for the many users deprived of the economic and social benefits of the Internet.

“We are going to keep working to connect the entire world even if that means looking beyond our planet,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post. The project is part of Facebook’s ambitious Internet.org project.

Using state-of-the-art satellite technology, Eutelsat and Facebook will each deploy internet services designed to relieve pent-up demand for connectivity from the many users in Africa beyond range of fixed and mobile terrestrial networks.

“Satellite networks are well suited to economically connecting people in low to medium density population areas and the high throughput satellite architecture of AMOS-6 is expected to contribute to additional gains in cost efficiency,” the statement read.

The capacity will enable Eutelsat to step up its broadband activity in Sub-Saharan Africa that was initiated using Ku-band satellites to serve professional users.

Two years ago, Facebook announced Internet.org, an effort to accelerate the rate of connectivity by addressing the physical, economic and social barriers that are keeping people from getting online.

For Facebook, this satellite system represents one of many technology investments to enable cost-effective broadband access to unconnected populations.

It plans to work with local partners across Africa to utilise satellite and terrestrial capacity to deliver services to rural areas.

“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa,” Chris Daniels, vice president of Internet.org, said in the statement.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Eutelsat on this project and investigating new ways to use satellites to connect people in the most remote areas of the world more efficiently,” he added.

According to Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat chairman and CEO, “Eutelsat’s strong track record in operating ‘High Throughput Satellite’ systems will ensure that we can deliver accessible and robust Internet solutions that get more users online and part of the Information Society.”

Next Story

No one Would Buy a Huawei Smartphone Sans Google or Facebook

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle

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FILE - A member of the media tries out new Huawei Honor 20 series of phones following their global launch in London, UK, May 21, 2019. VOA

By Nishant Arora

Be honest and ask yourself: Would you buy a smartphone that neither supports Android operating system and Google apps nor comes pre-installed with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram? This is the scenario which Huawei (and its sub-brand Honor) smartphones stare at in the near future – and an imminent fall if the issue does not get resolved in the next one-two quarters.

Although the Chinese communications giant aims to launch its own operating system called “Hongmeng” to replace the Android OS on its smartphones but ‘abhi Dilli door hai’ as the OS has to see the light of the day and then users’ approval, which is the most critical part.

The absence of apps like Facebook or WhatsApp that truly define user experiences is a double whammy for Huawei.

Currently the second largest smartphone player in the world (powered by stupendous growth in non-US regions like Europe and Asia), Huawei has sensed the tough road ahead. A recent report in Nikkei Asian Review claimed that Huawei has “downgraded its forecast for total smartphone shipments in the second half of 2019 by about 20 per cent to 30 per cent from the previous estimate”.

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Devices and Ecosystem, India and South Asia, IDC, almost half of Huawei’s smartphone volumes come from outside China with its wide smartphone portfolio which runs on Android with Google Mobile Services (GMS) – a collection of Google applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) that help support functionality across devices.

“China has its own ecosystem of apps which are hugely popular but only in China. Outside it, almost all popular Android apps are from Google or from US-based companies. These apps are the heart of experience of any smartphone user these days,” Singh told IANS.

“Without these apps present on its own OS, it will be very very tough for Huawei to pull in demand for its phones running on its own OS,” he added.

Sandwiched between the ongoing US-China trade war, Chinese telecom equipment major Huawei is frantically looking to salvage its prestige and fast cover the lost ground.

The company is also looking at the Indian smartphone market which has touched 450 million smartphone users and has a great potential to grow.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

“In India, they have never been really able to scale up to be a major player. But considering the growth potential in India, the decision by Google and Facebook has put a spanner in the Huawei’s possible aggressive plans for the country as the next growth market in next two-three years outside of China,” Singh told IANS.

Huawei pipped Apple as the second largest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2019 after Samsung. It clocked 17 per cent market share in the global smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research.

The Chinese tech giant, meanwhile, has denied reports that it has cut down smartphone manufacturing.

The company, however, is reassessing its target to become the world’s top-selling smartphone vendor by 2020, after the US trade ban was put in place.

On May 15, US President Donald Trump effectively banned Huawei with a national security order.

Huawei has filed a motion in a US court challenging the constitutionality of the US President Donald Trump’s order to ban it.

Also Read- Samsung Galaxy M40 Tech Review: Stunning Display, Better Chipset

According to reports, Google has also discussed with the US government about an exemption from the Huawei ban, saying it is bad for the company’s technology business.

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle.

Unless, a miracle happens. (IANS)