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Facebook to use drones and satellites to provide Internet access

Facebook and other technology companies are following through on a commitment made last year to increase Web access in places across the globe that have none.
By Ananth Baliga   |   March 28, 2014 at 11:42 AM   |   Comments

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MENLO PARK, Calif., March 28 (UPI) -- Facebook has set up a Connectivity Lab with an ambitious plan to provide net access to two-thirds of the world that lack such access, using drones and satellites.

The plan will put Facebook in direct competition with Google, which is planning to increase access to the net using balloons. While details are scant, Facebook will use low-orbit drones, geosynchronous satellites and infrared laser beams to provide net connections.

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

The Connectivity Lab will include experts from NASA's Jet Propulsion lab, its Ames research center and other experts in aerospace and communication technology. Facebook also hired a five-member team, who previously worked at Ascenta, who were instrumental in developing the Zephyr, which holds the record for longest flight for a solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

The move comes after Facebook and other technology companies launched internet.org to help increase net access to places that are still not connected.Facebook has already partnered with telecom companies to increase access and connection speeds in the Philippines and Paraguay.

An accompanying video suggests that the company plans to use these satellites and drones to beam down Web signals to areas with low-density coverage.

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