Facebook's Biggest Plan to Change the World Has Reportedly Failed


The rumored Facebook satellite tasked with bringing Internet access to developing countries is stopped dead in its tracks.

A report from the Information, which cites two unnamed Facebook sources, says the satellite, which could have cost up to $1 billion (another report says $500 million), was too expensive.

It was arguably Facebook's most ambitious mission yet: offer Internet access to countries with poor or even government-censored connectivity. How? Through Wi-Fi drones; the recent release of Facebook Lite, which is functional in less-than-ideal network conditions; and the low-cost Internet solution Internet.org.

Getty Images

Wall Street apparently took the news seriously: Facebook's stock price dropped this week, allegedly in response to the canceled plans.

According to the Information, Facebook may opt instead to rent space on someone else's low-orbit device, which would open the door for another ambitious, zany entrepreneur to corner the market.

Noah Berger/AP

Shortly after the release of the Information's report, Tesla founder Elon Musk asked the federal government permission to launch a network of 4,000 small satellites into space to provide Internet access to populations in developing countries.

By press time, Facebook hadn't returned a request for comment.

The social network did make one big announcement Tuesday, but it wasn't about the satellite. Facebook released Place Tips, a service that lets businesses like coffee shops know when Facebook-connected smartphones are nearby so it can send them updates and messages.