Facebook Will Use Drones To Bring Internet Everywhere On Earth
On April 19, 2017, Facebook announced that it will make use of drones in an effort to get rural regions around the world connected to the internet and serve in cases of disaster or unforeseen circumstances. They’ve already constructed an helicopter-like drone connected to a power source and an internet cable called ‘Tether-tenna’, which itself is connected to the already existing power lines.
This helicopter drone will fly above ground, acting as a tower in case of emergencies. Now, even though this is a long-term plan, they believe this project will provide internet for months at a time while the communities below repair and rebuild the destroyed infrastructure. They are already testing out the drones in high-populated areas like San Jose. Known as the Terragraph, it launched last year and is aimed at boosting wireless internet in denser areas. It is important to note that this project is still in its testing phases and Facebook still considers it a work in progress.
Another, similar project, known as the Aquila drones, tailored to beaming down internet at a millimetre wave frequency, is used to provide faster data speed. This too was launched last year. The drone suffered some structural failure while landing, thus initiating a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Nevertheless, test flights will continue on in 2017.
In terms of data transfer, Facebook was able to achieve a rate capable of supporting 4,000 ultra-high-definition videos being played simultaneously. It was also capable of sending data back and forth to a plane located some seven kilometres away.
Interestingly enough, not everyone is excited about Facebook’s initiative. India, for instance, blocked its Free Basics program in 2016 by saying that it will ‘stifle innovation and create an unfair playing field. Google is also working on a somewhat similar project known as Project Loom. They are instead focusing on balloons that will stay in the air for weeks. Stanford, on the other hand, is researching optical data transfer, which is something that various tech companies, Apple included, are working on.