Social network behemoth Facebook has announced plans that would introduce a massive global drone program to deliver Internet access to smartphones and mobile devices across the developing world.
Facebook is looking at pioneering firm Titan Aerospace, a potential $60 million dollar acquisition, to bolster its global Internet.org initiative. According to a report from TechCrunch, the two companies are in discussion regarding a merger, which would see Titan Aerospace build approximately 11,000 of its Solara 60 drones to help Facebook further its campaign.
Titan’s Solara 60 drones are classified as “atmospheric satellites.” They can remain in flight for up to five years without needing to land or be recharged, and fly at a near-orbital altitude above 60,000 feet, outside the airspace of most countries.
Effectively operating like satellites with far lower operating costs, a characteristic the company calls “atmospheric parking,” the drones will be able to provide low-cost, long-range Internet access to smartphones and mobile devices across the developing world.
Currently, a third of the planet’s population — about 2.7 billion people — have Internet access, according to TechWeek Europe.
Facebook’s Internet.org project looks to spread Web access across new terrain, to connect “the next five billion users,” according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during his press event at the Mobile World Congress last week.
Major partners like Ericsson, Nokia, Opera, Samsung and Qualcomm are part of the Internet.org initiative, committed to “developing joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online.”
Zuckerberg claimed, at last year’s launch of Internet.org, that “Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect.”