March 28, 2014
Facebook Working On Drones, Satellites And Lasers To Help Further Internet.org’s Goals
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In an effort to further the goals of Internet.org, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared new plans on Thursday. Efforts include developing drones, satellites and lasers that can deliver the Internet to areas where access is either difficult to come by or completely unavailable.
Much of the work is being done at the Connectivity Lab at Facebook through Internet.org, an organization Zuckerberg formed with others to make Internet access available to those in third world countries and areas where connectivity is difficult.
On the drone front, Facebook made motions to acquire Titan Aerospace earlier this month in a deal valued at around $60 million. Titan Aerospace has developed drones that fly for up to five years using solar energy, and can blanket regions with the signal necessary to provide Internet access.
To date it hasn't been drones, satellites and lasers deployed by Internet.org Alliance, so much as partnerships. The organization has made partnerships with cellular companies such as Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung on the technology end, Politico reports.
"We've made good progress so far. Over the past year, our work in the Philippines and Paraguay alone has doubled the number of people using mobile data with the operators we've partnered with, helping 3 million new people access the internet," Zuckerberg wrote in his post. Partnerships are expected to continue while Internet.org continues to work on the technology that can reach farther.
"We're going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too. That's what our Connectivity Lab focuses on, and there's a lot more exciting work to do her," Zuckerberg said.
Facebook and the Internet.org Alliance have constructed a team of scientists and engineers that can help develop the technology that will advance the organization's goals.
"Our team has many of the world's leading experts in aerospace and communications technology, including from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center. Today we are also bringing on key members of the team from Ascenta, a small UK-based company whose founders created early versions of Zephyr, which became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft. They will join our team working on connectivity aircraft," Zuckerberg wrote.
Partnerships, as well as technology, can help the Internet reach more people than ever before, advancing the organization's goals. "Zuckerberg has been pushing a broader mission to connect the world as Facebook works to expand its user base globally. He focused on Internet.org during his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month and cited the effort as one of the main reasons for purchasing WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service, for $19 billion in February," wrote Politico's Caroline Cullen.
Internet.org has the goal of providing the Internet to everyone worldwide, but questions on regulation are raised, Cullen added.
"Universal access to the Internet is a noble goal, but it’s important that the Internet that people can connect to is one that upholds the values that have made it so great," Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Cullen when discussing the acquisition of WhatsApp earlier this month. "The Internet is what it is today because of the free and open technologies that underpin it," he added. "We should aspire to bring access to that free and openness, not just closed and proprietary services."