Facebook to implement solar planes to provide free net access


Social media giant Facebook is interested in testing internet services through solar-powered plane in India and other telecom connectivity technologies it is developing. It aims to provide free internet services in the rural and unconnected regions of India and also other developing countries.

Facebook solar planes

The social networking company which is spearheading the internet.org platform said it is working on developing a series of new tools that will aid the growth of the internet to the unconnected.   “We are really in development of technologies at connectivity lab. We are not yet launching any pilots. We will in the future, and we are entirely open to launching it in India because there is such a great opportunity in India to connect the unconnected,” Facebook Vice President of Internet.org Chris Daniels said at MWC 2015 at Barcelona.

He quoted the company is working on alternate internet technologies other than traditional ways of providing connectivity including solar planes and satellites. The country is also trying to implement the same in Africa too. Daniels also said connectivity and greater access to the web will help people benefit services in crucial areas like health, education and employment.

Facebook is on talks to join hands with telecom operators through its program internet.org. internet.org provides a host of applications free-of-cost to the unconnected areas and these also include a lighter version of Facebook.  In India, Facebook in relationship with Reliance Communications launched internet.org.

“Internet.org is a customer acquisition tool. There is a 40 per cent increase in data customers for operators who have turned on internet.org. The fundamental thing that we can do to help operators is to bring them more paying customers. That’s the model which supports their business model and network roll out,” Daniel said.

The company plans to use self-sufficient aircraft as one of the mode to provide internet. “The reason why planes are interesting is that you can have solar-powered planes that stay very high in the sky and provide connectivity… The planes can be fuelled by the sun, do not need to have a generator or physical infrastructure on the ground. That’s potentially an attractive way through which we can provide connectivity.”

The satellites, which is another method, offers a similar toute. “Through these methods, we can reach areas of optical fibre is not present.”

This initiative of Facebook seems to a counteractive action for the Google’s Project Loon initiative which uses balloons to do the same.