【Facebook或2019年推出互联网卫星】据相关公开文件披露,科技巨头Facebook的互联网卫星计划目标是在2019年初推出内部开发卫星Athena(雅典娜)。Facebook旗下神秘公司PointView Tech LLC谈到计划在“有限时间”任务中使用低地球轨道卫星向“未服务和服务不足”的地区提供宽带服务。据了解,该项目可能只是实验,并非完整部署,因为低地球轨道卫星互联网需要大量卫星云来覆盖范围,而Facebook还未建立自己的高空硬件。但无论最终结果如何,其动机也许仍然不变:在连接服务欠缺地区创造商业机会。

Facebook hopes to launch an internet satellite in early 2019

Athena would provide broadband to underserved areas.

3DSculptor via Getty Images

Facebook has cooperated on internet satellite initiatives (with less-than-ideal results), but there's been precious little word of plans to make its own satellite beyond high-level promises. Now, however, there's something tangible. Both publicly disclosed FCC emails and a direct confirmation to Wired have revealed that Facebook aims to launch an internally developed satellite, Athena, sometime in early 2019. A spokesperson didn't share details, but the shell organization Facebook used to keep filings hidden (PointView Tech LLC) talked about offering broadband to "unserved and underserved" areas with a low Earth orbit satellite on a "limited duration" mission.

This is likely just an experiment rather than a full-fledged deployment. Low Earth orbit satellite internet would require a large cloud of satellites to provide significant coverage, similar to SpaceX's planned Starlink network. However, it shows that the company isn't done building its own high-altitude hardware now that it has stopped work on its internet drone.

Whatever Athena shapes up to be, Facebook's motives likely remain the same. As with Alphabet's Loon internet balloons, there's a strong commercial incentive to connect underserved regions. Even if Facebook doesn't charge a thing for access, it could benefit by adding millions of new users who'd view ads and use services (including through Instagram and WhatsApp). It would also look good to investors, as Facebook would keep its audience growing at a time when there's seemingly no more room to grow.


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