Facebook to use drones and satellites to spread the Internet

Facebook is harnessing satellite, drone and other technology to beam Internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped parts of the world.

By - March 28, 2014 Share on LinkedIn
facebook matrix logo

Facebook Inc is harnessing satellite, drone and other technology as part of an ambitious and costly effort to beam Internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped parts of the world.

The world’s No. 1 social network said on Thursday it has hired aerospace and communications experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and its Ames Research Center for the new “Connectivity Lab” project.

“Today, we’re sharing some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook.

He gave few specifics and did not specify a time frame.

The move extends the social networking company’s Internet.org effort, aimed at connecting billions of people who do not currently have Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia. Facebook has been working with telecommunications carriers to make Internet access more available and affordable.

“We’re going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too,” Zuckerberg said in his post.

Facebook envisions a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites delivering Internet access to different regions of the world. Invisible, infrared laser beams could allow Facebook to dramatically boost the speed of the Internet connections provided by the various aircraft, Facebook said on a Web page that explaining the project.

Facebook’s plans to take to the skies underscore the company’s rising ambitions to exert its influence beyond the confines of its 1.2 billion-member social network and to set the pace for new technology that will shape society. On Tuesday, Facebook announced plans to acquire Oculus VR Inc, a maker of virtual reality goggles that Facebook hopes could become the computing platform of the future.

Facebook is following in the steps of Google Inc, the world’s largest Internet search engine, whose Google X division is working on a variety of so-called “moonshot” projects including self-driving cars and wearable computers.

Google announced plans last year to use solar-powered balloons to deliver Internet access to remote regions of the world.

Among the jobs openings posted on Facebook’s website on Thursday were roles such as Antenna Systems Engineer and Electro-Optical Network Access Hardware Engineer.

Facebook also said it had hired a five-member team that worked at Ascenta, a British company whose founders created early versions of the Zephyr, which Facebook said held the record for the longest-flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

Shares of Facebook were up 28 cents, or less than 1 percent, at $61.25 in after-hours trading on Thursday.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Hay)

More Internet news

Twitter photo tagging and how to disable it

Visionary or looney? Zuckerberg goes on a spending spree

dotAfrica domain deal signed

Celebrity “no make-up selfies” raise cash for wrong charity

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

What is your primary source of Internet connectivity at home?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Top PC brands in South Africa 2016

Dell laptop

MyBroadband’s 2016 Technology Survey has revealed the top PC and component brands among South African techies.

Top 10 global Twitter conversations of 2016

Twitter on phone

Twitter has released its top conversations of the year, which include the Rio Olympics and the US elections.

Jacob Zuma is not getting a salary increase this year

Jacob Zuma South Africa flag

President Jacob Zuma has affirmed the recommendation not to increase the salaries of public office bearers for the 2016/17 financial year.

Why certain iPhone 6s batteries failed

Apple iPhone 6S unboxing

Apple said it has discovered why the batteries in certain iPhone 6s smartphones failed.

Free MyBroadband Newsletter
×