Facebook unveils solar-powered planes providing Wi-Fi to suburbs


Social networking giant Facebook has unveiled its new research lab on March 27, 2014, which will develop ‘aerospace and communication technologies’ in order to bring the access to Internet to those remote areas which have not been networked yet. One of the projects of the Connectivity Lab includes a plane which stays in the air for many months, while broadcasting Wi-Fi to regions below.

The Swiss-made solar-powered plane, Sola

The technology of the plane has come from Ascenta, which is a UK-based company whose specialty are high-altitude long-range aircraft. Facebook revealed its acquisition of the company for $20 million on March 28, 2014. The planes are set to be solar-powered and will fly over suburban areas above where commercial airlines fly, at an altitude of 20 kilometers.

There is also a solution for remote and mountain areas, as the networking giant will put up satellites which not just cover the area with network access, but also talk between each other through free-space optical communication with the help of infrared laser beams.

The project is similar to that of Google’s Project Loon, which makes use of the untethered balloons flying in the stratosphere in order to broadcast internet connections. Even though Project Loon is still in the trial stage, the company says that it could be deployed for the use in military communications or in disaster areas.

Photo Credits: Huff post