Facebook plans to start testing internet beaming drones next year to provide internet connectivity in remote locations. The social networking giant plans to launch the first test plane in 2015 with the ultimate aim to provide internet access through the sci-fi planes as early as three to five years from now.
Facebook Connectivity Lab's Yael Maguire revealed more details about the social networking sites plans at the Social Good Summit in New York earlier this week. He stated that the project aims to connect the last 15 percent of the unconnected world population with the internet planes. Maguire revealed that the main difficulty they have faced with the project is how to design a plane that will fly above the weather – 60.000 to 90.000 feet up in the air – for months or even years at a time. He added that the team will have to adapt solar power panels to the new task, as it may be the only feasible solution. But operating machinery at such a high altitude has a lot of challenges.
"In order for us to fly these planes — unmanned planes that have to fly for months, or perhaps years at a time — we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace," Maguire said. "That's between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don't fly there, and certainly not drones."
"We’re taking on a whole bunch of technical risk, but we’re also taking on whole bunch of regulatory risk, because there are no rules about flying planes outside of 60,000 feet and above. There are no rules about beaming signals down to people in those environments,” Maguire said.
Internet giant Google is also planning to build a satellite fleet to provide internet access in remote areas. Reportedly the internet giant is planning to spend more than $1 billion to build 180 new satellites that will orbit the Earth and provide internet access globally.