FACEBOOK Shifts INTERNET Transmission Project from SOLAR DRONES to SATELLITES

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Many tech startups may aspire to become, after their consumer or user base has grown, something more than their original incarnations. Only few of them have ever reached that level of accomplishment like Facebook. Among the many other projects, beyond one of the ultimate social media platforms in the world, that Mark Zuckerberg’s company has been busy with was the development of a drone system called Aquila to provide internet access to remote areas of the world. That project did not pan out and was scrapped last month; but already Facebook has started focus on a new field: internet satellites.

According to The Verge, Facebook is not thwarted in its quest to provide internet to every spot imaginable in the world, by the recent shutdown of their net drone project. Now the social network juggernaut is researching and developing a possible satellite to fulfill that function on a more long-term basis than drones. An application the company filed with the FCC contains this aim of the proposed satellite: to “efficiently provide broadband access to un-served and underserved areas throughout the world”. The name for the project proposal is PointView Tech LLC, and the in-development satellite is to be dubbed Athena.

With regards to their discontinuing of the Aquila drone project, a Facebook spokesperson remarks that they have reached the end of feasible development for their original internet drones, which were supposed to be autonomous and powered by solar panels so that they could fly unsupervised for stretches of time to transmit broadband internet signals over their targeted areas. A similar solar drone development initiative was being looked into by Alphabet, parent company of net giant Google, only for the initiative to be terminated all the way back in January in favor of Project Loon, which employs Wi-Fi air balloons instead.

Facebook considers its crusade to deliver more internet access a crucial necessity in the wake of a broadband development report dated last year, stating that despite advances in online infrastructure, over half of the Earth is still not connected to the net. One solution being pursued by Mark Zuckerberg’s company and many others like SpaceX, is the deployment of internet transmitting satellites in low Earth orbit (100-1,250 miles above surface).

A statement by Facebook relates that they have little to share regarding PointView Tech and Athena at this time noting, “While we have nothing to share about specific projects at this time, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent.”

Image courtesy of Name that Font

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