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Space Age Surfing: Facebook To Use Drones, Beam Internet to All

What’s that flying overhead? It could soon be a Facebook-owned Internet drone.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the company will use “drones, satellites and lasers” to achieve its dream of bringing Internet connectivity to everyone in the world.

“We’ve been working on ways to beam internet to people from the sky,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.

It’s part of, the Facebook-led initiative launched last year that aims to bring Internet connectivity to  two-thirds of the world’s population currently lacking access. Zuckerberg said in his post that the project has already helped 3 million people access the Internet for the first time in the Philippines and Paraguay.

But, he added, “connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too.”

So Facebook is launching the new Connectivity Lab, which is working on Internet connectivity systems that involve technology like “high-altitude long-endurance planes, satellites and lasers.” The idea is to harness technology that can beam to areas that lack Internet infrastructure.

The Connectivity Lab team includes experts from NASA and from Ascenta, a U.K.-based company whose founders created early versions of what became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

Zuckerberg’s announcement comes just shy of a month after Facebook was reported to be buy drone company, Titan Aerospace, for $60 million. Titan’s solar-powered drones can reportedly stay airborne for five years.

Facebook won’t be the first to use floating devices for global Internet connectivity. Last summer Google launched Project Loon, a pilot program testing Internet access via solar-powered helium balloons. Meanwhile, Facebook and Google are only two of the players in a multibillion-dollar race to connect the globe.


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