Facebook wants to beam the Internet from the sky

March 27, 2014
Facebook's creator Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, on February 24, 2014

Facebook revealed Thursday it has a lab working on using drones, satellites and solar-powered planes to provide web access around 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 on the leading social network.

The team at the Connectivity Lab builds on a quest by Facebook-launched Internet.org to make access to basic online services available everywhere on the planet.

"Connecting the whole world will require inventing too," Zuckerberg said.

"That's what our Connectivity Lab focuses on, and there's a lot more exciting work to do here."

The team at the lab comprises experts in aerospace and communications technology, including former members of the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center, according to Facebook.

And it just added talent from a Britain-based startup behind long-flying solar powered, unmanned aircraft.

The lab is looking at varying tactics to achieve its mission. For remote regions or spread-out populations, the team is interested in using satellites orbiting the Earth.

Suburban populations could be given access to Internet service from gear in planes continually circling about 20,000 meters overhead, Facebook's Yael Maguire said in a YouTube video posted by Internet.org.

The planes would fly above the weather and, powered by the sun, could remain in the sky for months at a time, according to Maguire.

The team is looking at "tying it all together" using lasers to transmit data between satellites, aircraft, or other points.

"We are just at the beginning," Maguire said. "We have some amazing people on the team and there are some awesome problems to solve."

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wealy darling_
not rated yet Mar 27, 2014
With a blast radius of 50 miles, millions perish in 3rd world countries.
Sinister1812
not rated yet Mar 28, 2014
Mr. Suckerberg wants even MORE money... His ideas are getting more grandiose now, to the point of being ridiculous.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2014
What use-case, what problem, is this solution addressing? How much will it cost and who will pay for it? How many people will experience benefits and to what degree?

Considering it's an organization dedicated to enabling communication, I note their web site, internet.org, is pretty hostile to ordinary browsing. Rife with javascript, pdf files, etc. Unviewable with all that disabled.
pntaylor
not rated yet Mar 28, 2014
Considering it's an organization dedicated to enabling communication, I note their web site, internet.org, is pretty hostile to ordinary browsing. Rife with javascript, pdf files, etc. Unviewable with all that disabled.


I was just there and didn't see any of that.
It is just a promotional site, presenting their goals and showing who is involved.
ironjustice
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2014
Everyone has to admit, the internet is the next thing to sliced bread. Access to the internet is paramount to those in communities not normally served by modern methods and the ability to offer access to everyone is an idea long overdue. It may cut into the profits of many smaller entities but access to the internet should be made a human right.
Sinister1812
not rated yet Mar 29, 2014
What good is the internet, if those people can't even afford computers?
ironjustice
1 / 5 (1) Mar 29, 2014
@Sinister1812 What good is a computer without the internet is a better question. Everybody wants to run before they can walk. An analogy, a vine. Doesn't grow too good if it can't hang from something. The fact somebody with the money Zuch has, willing to do such a thing, is a testament to his altruism, love for his fellow man and even .. inuendo .. of an ulterior motive is below, way below, the belt. Imho.
Sinister1812
not rated yet Mar 30, 2014
@Sinister1812 What good is a computer without the internet is a better question. Everybody wants to run before they can walk. An analogy, a vine. Doesn't grow too good if it can't hang from something. The fact somebody with the money Zuch has, willing to do such a thing, is a testament to his altruism, love for his fellow man and even .. inuendo .. of an ulterior motive is below, way below, the belt. Imho.


Um, I'm pretty sure my analogy was the better one. Your claim of internet as a basic necessity (before food, water and shelter) is more like "running before walking". And you call my comment "below the belt".
ironjustice
not rated yet Mar 31, 2014
I said access to the internet should be a human right. Far from 'let them starve, dirty in the field'. The 'slander on his good name', part, wasn't directed to you, it was directed to the cynical posters. Helping people to help themselves. Access to information and communication, cheaply, in order to improve their life. The fact someone might believe his motivation is even more billions, as opposed to him understanding the above, forward looking, is, as I said, cynical, if not outright rude.

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