Drone Delivery of Internet Access to Billions : Aquila by Zuckerberg and Facebook

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Facebook is on a mission to provide Internet access to less privileged people across the globe. In a recent blog by Jay Parikh, Global Head of Engineering and Infrastructure, he announced that Facebook Connectivity Lab has completed the first full-scale test flight of Aquila, a high-altitude unmanned aircraft.

Think of Aquila as a large drone that runs on solar power and can remain in the air for up to three months at a time. While Elon Musk will be pleased with the usage of solar power, the significance here is that Aquila can beam connectivity to earth for all the time it is up in the air.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Chairman and CEO wrote in his blog on July 21st:

The flight took place before dawn in Yuma, Arizona. Our original mission was to fly Aquila for 30 minutes, but things went so well that we decided to keep the plane up for 96 minutes. We gathered lots of data about our models and the aircraft structure — and after two years of development, it was emotional to see Aquila actually get off the ground.
Facebook created Internet.org to connect the world to and through the Internet. The company wants to partner with mobile operators and governments around the globe and offer free access and applications in local languages that would help people with jobs, health, education and messaging. Internet.org has multiple programs including Free Basics which offers access to websites and applications for free without data charges to rural people in remote areas. In February 2016, Facebook suffered a setback when Government of India disapproved Free Basics in a ruling in favor of net neutrality. But that has not deterred Facebook and the Aquila program is a living proof that Facebook and Zuckerberg are investing heavily in the free Internet movement.
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As per Zuckerberg,  to get to the goal of flying a fleet of Aquilas together at 60,000 feet, communicating with each other with lasers and staying aloft for months at a time, Facebook engineers need to work on improving several design elements of Aquila such as weight, power, control, speed, altitude and load and laser based communications. Facebook will also need to work with government and mobile operators around the world on piloting this aircraft and testing the quality of services that it plans to offer. Jay Parikh outlined the global opportunity for Facebook to help billions :
Internet access can offer life-changing opportunities and experiences to all of us, but there are still 4 billion people without it. That’s 60% of the global population. As many as 1.6 billion of those unconnected people live in remote locations with no access to mobile broadband networks, where implementing existing network technologies is so challenging and costly that it will take years to bring everyone affordable access. As part of our commitment to Internet.org, we formed the Facebook Connectivity Lab to build new technologies — including aircraft, satellites, and wireless communications systems — to help solve this problem more quickly.

It is yet to be seen whether and how governments and operators across the globe warm up to Internet.org programs. The drone internet service provider technology however seems very promising and if successful could set examples for other companies including Google. VCloud News wishes the Facebook team success with this huge mission!

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One comment

  • It appears that Mark is doing more for world communication, education, knowledge & ultimently peace than our existing President & assotiates,
    CAN I VOTE FOR HIM ?
    LOOKOUT MARK !, anyone who is doing this much good is certain to get interfearance from our HELPFULL polititions.

    Mack

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