Facebook Looks to Drones to Provide Internet in Under Served Areas

On March 27, Facebook announced that it was working on plans to use drones, satellites, and solar-powered planes to deliver wireless Internet service to under served areas of the world.

"We've been working on ways to beam Internet to people from the sky," Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg said in a post to his personal page.

Zuckerberg announced that through the company's Connectivity Lab, Facebook is exploring ways "to make affordable access to basic internet services available to every person in the world."

The Connectivity Lab is made up of experts in aerospace and communications technology, including former members of the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center.

Zuckerberg also noted that his team has added experts from a successful and promising solar powered, unmanned aircraft project.

"Today we are also bringing on key members of the team from Ascenta, a small UK-based company whose founders created early versions of Zephyr, which became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft," Zuckerberg reported.

Zuckerberg continued saying, "We're going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too. That's what our Connectivity Lab focuses on, and there's a lot more exciting work to do here." 

The combined effort is called Internet.org and on its main page the group pledges to deliver Internet to the world. "No one should have to choose between access to the Internet and food or medicine. Internet.org partners will join forces to develop technology that decreases the cost of delivering data to people worldwide, and helps expand internet access in under served communities," the group says on its about page.

The team plans for the un-manned, sun-powered crafts to fly above the weather. Satellites using laser technology would then beam Internet connectivity to the drones and in turn the drones would wirelessly blanket a region with the Internet service.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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