Facebook is building drones to bring the world online

Steven Loeb · March 28, 2014 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/35f3

Internet.org has already connected three million people in the Philippines and Paraguay

Finally, we have the answer to the question we've all been waiting for: how exactly will Mark Zuckerberg, and Internet.org, connect all of those people to the internet? Would it be done via balloons, a la Google? Or some other crazy scheme?

No, actually it's pretty much what we all expected: drones, satellites and... lasers? Well, maybe I wasn't expecting that last one, but the first two were pretty much a given.

In a Facebook post put up on Thursday, Zuckerberg announced the new Connectivity Lab, which is developing new technology to "make affordable access to basic internet services available to every person in the world."

The team at the Connectivity Lab consists of "many of the world's leading experts in aerospace and communications technology, including from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center." It has also recently hired some "key members of the team from Ascenta," which is a small UK-based company whose founders created early versions of Zephyr.

The team from Ascenta will be joining the team that is working on connectivity aircraft, such as drones and satellites. It should be made clear, though, that Internet.org made it clear in a press release that is not taking a "one size fits all approach" to connecting the world. 

"The team’s approach is based on the principle that different sized communities need different solutions and they are already working on new delivery platforms—including planes and satellites—to provide connectivity for communities with different population densities," it said.

So, for example it would use a "solar-powered high altitude, long endurance aircraft "for a suburban area, as it can stay in the air a long time, be deployed quickly and deliver reliable connections. For less populated areas, low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites would be used instead.

The Internet.org project was first announced in August of last year, with the stated goals of making access more affordable, making the use of data more efficient and helping businesses drive access. The end result of the project being that it would connect the next five billion people on the planet to the internet.

So far, it seems its efforts seem to be going well, as Zuckerberg has revealed that, through Internet.org's work in the Philippines and Paraguay alone has given internet access to 3 million new people. 

Last month Internet.org announced partnerships with Rwandan government, Nokia, edX and Airtel for a a pilot project called SocialEDU, which will help provide students in Rwanda with free access to a collaborative online education experience.

It also with teamed up with Ericsson to create the Internet.org Innovation Lab, which will give developers the ability to test their apps in real world environments at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.

And, lastly, it entered into a partnership with with Unilever, with the goal of bringing Internet access to the millions of people who live in rural India.

(Image source: popularmechanics.com)

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