Here’s something a bit different and not too many people are aware of (yes including me initially) from popular social network Facebook. The company has been working on accelerating its efforts to bring internet connectivity to the four billion people around the world who are not yet online, with the goal of contributing to prosperity, progress and development around the globe.
The company’s Connectivity Lab has reached a major milestone in this ambition with the first full-scale test flight of Aquila, an unmanned solar-powered airplane that can be used to bring affordable internet to hundreds of millions of people in the hardest-to-reach places. This is great news, especially for many rural areas not only locally but also throughout the rest of Africa and the likes of countries who are short of the right infrastructure.
Internet access can offer life-changing opportunities, information, and experiences, but 1.6 billion people today live in remote locations with no access to mobile broadband networks. Facebook is building new technologies like Aquila to help address this challenge.
When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 97km in diameter, beaming connectivity down from an altitude of more than 18 000 meters using laser communications and millimeter wave systems. Aquila is designed to fly for up to three months at a time.
Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and with their growing team of aerospace, optical physics, RF communications and other world experts, and existing relationships with the technology community, telcos, governments, and communities that use Facebook, the company is uniquely positioned to do this work. I for one had no one idea about this.
I’m sure you can agree that this is a great project from the company and we certainly look forward to seeing how the rest of it turns goes.