Back in 2015, Facebook was reported to be testing a drone to deliver Internet to the unconnected populations around the world. It sounded like a novel idea like Google Loon since according to statistics, the majority of people in the world are not Internet users and this is a huge opportunity for them.
Later on, we saw reports of Facebook saying that their Internet drone, Aquila had made a successful maiden flight almost two years ago and it seemed all rosy and all. Well it isn’t all rosy as Facebook is abandoning the project.
Facebook said they have noticed seing companies investing in this technology in the aerospace industry. Previously, the company was involved in the aircraft’s design, development and testing.
“Given these developments, we’ve decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer and to close our facility in Bridgwater,” Facebook said in the post. The company will from now on work with partners like Airbus on high altitude platform stations (HAPS) connectivity generally and other tech to make this system works.
Facebook is abandoning the building of the aircraft but it will still be involved. They say they are working on a proposal for the 2019 World Radio Conference so that HAPS gets more spectrum for HAPS.
To Facebook’s credit, this was a bold project to connect the 4 billion plus people around the world to the Internet. They could have abandoned it due to rising costs and maybe they have to come up with a more cost effective measure to make sure the tech can be used widely in conjunction with their Internet.org initiative.