Facebook announced the Tether-tenna aerial internet project at its F8 developer conference in May of 2017. The project consisted of Tether-tenna, a small helicopter drone, that could temporarily provide internet access to areas that have been struck by disaster or have been subject to emergency situations. However, now a new report suggests that Facebook shut down the project only a few months after introducing it at the event.
According to the report, Facebook abandoned the project in order to focus on development and advancements of other projects. A Facebook spokesperson was quoted by The Verge saying, “It wasn’t something we pursued further as we chose to focus our efforts on continued development and advancement of our Terragraph, millimeter-wave, and HAPS (high altitude platform station) programs. We engage in a number of proof of concept initiatives like this one as they’re great learning vehicles for our connectivity teams.”
Facebook announced and demonstrated the Tethra-tenna at its F8 developer conference last year. The company showed a prototype that could take off, hover, and land. While the antenna was provided by Facebook, the drone was designed by a startup called Everfly. The CEO of the company Mikell Taylor, told The Verge, that Facebook did not follow-up with the project after its F8 developer conference event. And while Everfly tried to commercialize the technology on its own, it failed to get the required funding for it.
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This is also not the only aerial internet project that Facebook has abandoned this year. In June, the company decided to shut down its Aquila project, which consisted of bigger high-flying solar-powered drones that could provide internet to a remote area with the help of lasers. And while Facebook might have interest in providing aerial internet, it’s clear that the company is not prioritizing it over projects that it might have more expertise in.