Facebook today announced its first full-scale unmanned drone, capable of flying for 90 days non-stop, with ability to work as a flying internet connectivity provider to enable the remotest parts of the earth with internet access.
Facebook was working on this project for quite some time now that revolves around the idea of enabling internet access to remotest parts of the earth through flying drones.
Almost 10 percent of world’s population lives in remote locations where there is no internet infrastructure because its either not commercially viable or operationally impossible to equip such locations with internet. This is where internet drones come into play.
Facebook aims to enable carriers or service providers with internet through flying drones. Which essentially means that Facebook won’t become an ISPs, instead ISPs will be provisioned with internet internet access (at a price) through these drones to offer internet to the people in their respective service areas.
Billed as Aquila, the solar-powered unmanned drone will fly above commercial airlines or even weather at around 60,000 to 90,000 feet above sea level. Aquila is a wide, light-weight, stealth-fighter look alike drone that has wingspan of a 737 but weighs less than a car or just around 500KGs.
Facebook said that Aquila is now ready for testing. When deployed, it will be able to circle a remote area for around 90 days, beaming connectivity down to people at a cumulative speed of 10Gbps.
Working of an Internet Drone
As for working of the drones, ground stations — usually an ISP — will throw laser to the bottom of drone to lock a direct channel between drone and ground stations. Once locked, drones — that will get internet through satellites — will start beaming internet at a speed of around 10Gbps.
Facebook said that they specifically designed and lab-tested a laser technology that can beam up to 10s of gigabites of internet per second (which is ten times better than any available laser beaming) to a the size of a Rs. 5 coin from more than 10 miles away.
Considering that laser beam is required for internet relay, weather conditions such as clouds are going to hamper the speeds, but otherwise its a doable and approved idea.
Seemingly a Commercial Project
Despite the fact that Internet drones are part of Internet.org project, widely believed to be a humanitarian activity from Facebook, the social network giant has plans to sell internet to ISPs through these drones.
Facebook, in a press briefing, said that some Governments have already shown interest in these internet drones.
While a lot of details are yet to be unveiled, we can safely assume that Facebook plans to generate revenues through its internet drones.
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