Facebook to take to the skies in quest to connect the whole world


The social network look to acquire a solar-powered drone company in the drive to bring the internet to the 5 billion people that don’t yet have it.

The news indicates Facebook’s contribution to the ambitious internet.org project, a drive to bring affordable smartphones and web connectivity to developing countries.

Titan Aerospace, the company in question make solar-powered UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) also known as drones. Allegedly Titan’s near-orbital, autonomous flying machines can stay airborne for up to five years at a time drawing power from the sun.

According to a source at TechCrunch, Facebook plans to build 11.000 drones to act as flying internet connectivity hubs, initially to operate over Africa.

Outside of internet.org, Google are currently experimenting with solar powered air balloons under their Project Loon, in a similar effort to bring the web to unconnected users. Of course for both companies the hope is to gain ongoing brand allegiance from the newly-connected going forward.

With two thirds of the world still to get regular internet access there’s plenty of custom for the internet giants to fight over. The Titan Aerospace purchase will apparently cost Facebook $60 million (around £36 million), a relatively modest sum compared to their recent WhatsApp purchase.

image: © Titan Aerospace