Facebook and Viasat are bringing Wi-Fi to rural areas

Facebook and global communications company, Viasat, have announced a partnership that will quickly bring affordable and high-quality internet to rural areas, which may lack reliable connectivity or have no internet access at all.

Prior to the collaboration, Viasat had already started deploying its satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi hotspot service, which brought inexpensive, high-speed Wi-Fi directly to consumer’s devices in places where internet service was unavailable. Viasat’s hotspot service is low-maintenance, requires little local infrastructure, and is highly sustainable, making it more suitable for rural markets.

Facebook will be investing funds into the deployment of Viasat’s technology and will play a key role in identifying ideal locations for the service, as long as it falls within satellite coverage. With the help of Facebook’s funds, Viasat will be able to provide an affordable pre-paid service to thousands of rural locations globally.

“Facebook is committed to working with industry partners around the world to help bring more people online to a faster internet,” said Dan Rabinovitsj, vice president, Facebook Connectivity. “Viasats rapidly growing Community Wi-Fi hotspot service, already available to over one million people in rural Mexico, is an example of a model that can help overcome the global connectivity challenges of accessibility and affordability, particularly in hard to reach rural areas. We are excited to partner with an industry leader like Viasat to accelerate Wi-Fi network deployments. Our joint initiative will enable more people to connect with friends and family, share knowledge and access education and career opportunities.”

As of now, the two companies are focusing on expanding internet connectivity in Mexico, a country that has already seen a huge improvement in internet access from Viasat’s service in the past year. Viasat has already brought internet access to over 1m Mexican citizens, offering up to 100 Megabit per second speeds at low prices.

“Enabling the next 4bn internet users to come online is one of the grand challenges of our time – and participating in that is also one of the most exciting and rewarding opportunities of the mobile internet era,” said Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, Viasat. “Rural communities, especially in emerging markets, are often the hardest to serve economically, yet are a vivid example of how Viasats innovative space communication systems can bring broadband communication services to the places that need it most, at the lowest bandwidth costs. We are pleased with the support that Facebook is bringing to our initiative and excited about the opportunity to accelerate the pace at which we can scale.”