Facebook’s First Internet Drone Ready To Soar

To achieve its objective of providing Internet access to 4 billion people, Facebook is taking to the skies. Yesterday, the company announced a major milestone in the development and testing of its Aquila drone. Facebook said it has finished construction on its first aircraft, which is now ready for flight testing.

Facebook first announced its ambition to design a fleet of drones to provide Internet connectivity to people living in remote parts of the world more than a year ago. When deployed, the drones will be able to circle remote regions for up to 90 days, beaming connectivity down from altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet. The Aquila drone has the wingspan of a 737 but weighs less than a car, thanks to its unique design and carbon fiber frame.

Reaching the Last 10 Percent

EUSince we launched Internet.org, itEUs been our mission to find ways to provide Internet connectivity to the more than 4 billion people who are not yet online,EU Jay Parikh, FacebookEUs VP of global engineering and infrastructure, said in the companyEUs news blog.

Internet.org is FacebookEUs initiative to bring free, basic Internet access through mobile providers to people who are not yet online. Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it had reached agreements with mobile providers in 17 countries to provide more than one billion people with free connectivity for basic services.

Parikh said the problem is that 3G Internet connections would not reach everyone. EUTen percent of the worldEUs population lives in remote locations with no Internet infrastructure, and the kinds of infrastructure technologies used everywhere else -- things like fiber-optic cable, microwave repeaters and cell towers -- may be a challenge to deploy cost-effectively in these regions.EU

FacebookEUs Aquila drone, which was developed by the companyEUs Connectivity Lab and built by its U.K. aerospace team, is the...

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