Facebook s plans of beaming Internet to remote areas of the world using drones is bound to be a topic of discussion during Mark Zuckerberg s Delhi town hall tomorrow. As we head closer to the event, here s a look back at how the company is achieving this objective. Also Read - Mark Zuckerberg discusses net neutrality, zero-rating issues with Delhi MPsAlso Read - Technology can help build superpowers: Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg first announced Facebook s plans to beam Internet from the skies in March last year. This was a take on Google s Project Loon, which envisioned beaming Internet from hot air balloons. Facebook s Connectivity Lab had roped in experts from NASA s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center, as well as Ascenta, the UK-based startup behind Zephyr – the world s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft. Also Read - Lobbying for net neutrality, working towards building open framework: Mark Zuckerberg
These drones, the company was building, would use Free Space Optics (FSO) to beam lasers. These lasers would be able to provide extremely high bandwidths and capacity, which is on par with the fiber optic cables used now.
Earlier this year at the F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook finally announced its first drone, called Aquila. Aquila is an unmanned drone with a wingspan similar to a Boeing 767 aircraft, but built using light materials that makes it weigh less than a standard car.
These light materials are imperative, since the drone is designed to fly at above 60,000 feet for almost three months at a time. It is powered by solar cells integrated into its wings, and as for connectivity, Aquila is capable of transmitting up to 10 gigabits per second. Zuckerberg said that the drones will use laser to communicate with each other, and use radio signals to ground stations.