Drones in Sky: Will Facebook Connect the World With its Own Internet?

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg addresses at the Internet.org Summit - 2014 in New Delhi, on Oct.9, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg addresses at the Internet.org Summit – 2014 in New Delhi, on Oct.9, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

If Facebook has its way, there would soon be huge solar-powered drones beaming down internet in the remotest of areas, without the TSPs or TRAI trying to step in and regulate the internet access or sidestep net neutrality.

Facebook has been testing such drones in England, confirmed Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. The drones use lasers to beam internet access down to the ground, designed to provide connections to rural and no-internet zones, reported The Guardian.

“As part of our Internet.org effort to connect the world, we’ve designed unmanned aircraft that can beam internet access down to people from the sky,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post. “We’ve successfully completed our first test flight of these aircraft in Britain,” he wrote.

The drones with a wingspan of commericial aircraft were developed by Ascenta, a Somerset-based designer of solar-powered drones bought by Facebook last year. These drones are able to fly at altitudes of 60,000 feet for months at a time based on energy from the solar panels.

The Facebook drones have wingspans of more than 29 metres, or that of a Boeing 737, but weigh less than a car.

“Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10 percent of the world’s population that live in remote communities without internet,” Zuckerberg said.

The drones are being tested as part of Facebook’s internet.org initiative that aims to connect the next billion people to the internet, expanding the reach of the social network which has connected 1.39 billion monthly active users as of now.

“If we achieve our first goal, get everyone on the internet, build services at scale for the entire planet, we create this new problem: so much information you can’t consume the stuff that’s important to you,” Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer said recently.

However, Facebook is not alone to test its own internet access system. Even, Google is testing similar exercise with its high altitude balloons and drones, buying American drone firm Titan Aerospace in April last year.

So, what happens when Facebook and Google are accessible without the telecom service providers who are lobbying with the regulator TRAI to collect more bucks from the users for access to Facebook and other app-based IM and VOIP services?




(With inputs from IANS)

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