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Wednesday, 05 March 2014 12:01

Facebook wants to drone on

Written by Nick Farrell



Getting a connection

Social notworking site Facebook wants to buy a drone company so that it can beam wireless Internet access to consumers in undeveloped parts of the world.

Apparently, Facebook is looking at buying Titan, although its Chief Executive Vern Raburn declined to comment on whether Facebook was buying the company or just a large order of its planes. The effort would help advance Facebook's Internet.org effort, aimed at connecting billions of people who do not currently have Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia.

Of course some parts of the world where it wants the drones to fly normally have to cope with US companies using drones to shoot them, or like the Taliban, rank Facebook right up there with barbers. Titan is developing a variety of solar-powered "atmospheric satellites" which fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet and can remain aloft for up to five years and have a 165-foot (50-metre) wingspan, slightly shorter than that of a Boeing 777.

Facebook is interested in having Titan build 11,000 of its Solara 60 model drones for its Internet.org project. It is not the only one having a crack at it. Last year, Google announced Project Loon, which aims to use solar-powered air balloons to beam the nternet to remote regions.

Providing wireless access could help Facebook ensure that its online social network is among the basic services used by people in developing economies as they start to use Internet-connected mobile phones in coming years.

Nick Farrell

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