Just yesterday, Google signed up Sri-Lanka as its first partner for its ambitious Google Loon project. Project Loon is an initiative aimed at bringing internet to majority of the world’s population currently not connected. Project Loon uses balloons circling the earth’s atmosphere at high altitudes, which link together forming a network and thus giving internet access to remote and rural areas. The Project Loon was a brain child of Google X labs, that develops moonshot projects including self-driving cars and solar-powered drones.
Facebook has now issued an update on the progress of its project similar to Loon called Connectivity Labs. With Connectivity Labs, Facebook wants to deliver the internet to majority of the wold in collaboration with internet.org. Connectivity lab has been developing a laser based system, by applying laser beams between drones and satellites thereby dramatically increasing the data speeds over long distances. In addition, to the laser system, Facebook also uses solar powered drones operating in high altitudes and capable of enduring longer flights of close to 3 months. The aircrafts fly at 20 km altitude offering users stronger connection. Facebook also uses low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites for delivery.
In its update, Facebook says it will launch a drone with the wingspan of a Boeing 737, weighing 400 kg and flying at altitudes of 20 and 30 km), above the altitude of commercial airplanes, so that it is not affected by problematic weather according to Reuters. The drones will be launched by Helium filled balloons similar to those of Project Loon with the project codenamed Aquila. Facebook is currently conducting structural tests on the drones before launching them.