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Facebook Nearly Ready to Deploy Drone-Delivered Internet Access

Solar-powered drone will be able to fly without landing for three months at a time

MOUNTAINVIEW, Calif.�One reason that many people (including myself) feel that the public Internet will never completely supplant over-the-air broadcast radio is that there are many places around the world in which there is simply no access to it. At least, not right now.

I�ve mentioned in thevirtual pages of Digital Radio Updatethat both Google and Facebook have plans on remedying this deficiency. It turns out that Facebook is fairly close to delivering.��

Facebook has revealed its first full-scale drone, code-named �Aquila,� according to� Thesolar-powered�drone will be able to fly without landing for three months at a time, using a laser to beam data to a base station on the ground.

Facebook plans to use a linked network of the drones to provide internet access to large rural areas, but will only provide �wholesale� access to ground-based ISPs. The ISPs will in turn provide connectivity to local users. The uplink/downlink will be handled by newly developed lasers that can pass data at the rate of 10s of gigabits per second.� �Because the plane requires a connection with the lasers on the ground though, you might experience a slower connection when it’s raining or cloudy,� according to�

The drone does not have wheels, or even the ability to climb from ground level to its cruising altitude without aid; it will be launched with the help of helium balloons, which will take it up to its operating height. Even when fully laden with communications gear, it will weigh just 880lbs (400kg). It has a wingspan of 46 yards.

I�m wondering how the landing is going to be accomplished.