If all goes according to plan, Facebook will be testing its drones next year to bring internet connectivity to places that are yet to be connected with Google already in the race for putting up its own drones in the air.
The two are not alone in this effort with indications that Samsung, Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericson and Media Tex also involved in similar such projects.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook wrote in March, “Today, we’re sharing some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone.”
“Our team has many of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology, including from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center”, he added further at the time.
Yael Maguire, Connectivity Lab engineering director said that the solar-drones would be flying between 60,000 and 90,000 feet about the earth’s surface and will not be subjected to the vagaries of nature. The altitude of the flight, he said should not pose any regulatory problems, but this can change in his view.
Maguire further revealed that though testing will be on one-operator per drone basis it will eventually be upgraded to one per 100 making the project feasible. The drones, according to him will be as large as a Boeing 747 aircraft, but substantially lighter.
It also comes to light that the first trial is due to commence next year and once it proves successful, more changes will be made. He was confident that services can commence as early as 2017 and latest by 2019. The drone-project is expected to cover 21 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.