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Forget Google balloons: Facebook says drones are key to global Internet access

31 March 2014, 7:28 am EDT By Vamien McKalin Tech Times
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While Google is looking to use balloons to bring Internet to certain parts of the world, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is placing his faith in drones while mocking Google in the process.

While Zuckerberg did not mention Google Loon by name, the Facebook CEO did touch on why drones are better than balloons in providing Internet for those who are not fortunate enough to have it. You see, the drones are basically unmanned aerial vehicles, that will have the ability to steer themselves, something the balloons are able to do. However, the balloons lack the precision of winged vehicles, which should make Facebook's plan superior.

Furthermore, it's understood that both Facebook drones and Google balloons have the ability to fly at the same altitude, which is around 12 miles up. However, drones should fare better at such heights, for they are better suited for dealing with high wind speeds and other factors balloons might not be able to handle.

Additionally, Google Loons will only be able to stay in flight for around 100 days, while drones could fly for years without ever returning to ground.

"Based on these constraints, drones operating at 65,000 feet are ideal. At this altitude, a drone can broadcast a powerful signal that covers a city-sized area of territory with a medium population density," says Mark Zuckerberg. "This is also close to the lowest altitude for unregulated airspace, and a layer in the atmosphere that has very stable weather conditions and low wind speeds. This means an aircraft can easily cruise and conserve power, while generating power through its solar panels during the day to store in its batteries for overnight use."

"With the efficiency and endurance of high altitude drones, it's even possible that aircraft could remain aloft for months or years. This means drones have more endurance than balloons, while also being able to have their location precisely controlled. And unlike satellites, drones won't burn up in the atmosphere when their mission is complete. Instead, they can be easily returned to Earth for maintenance and redeployment."

Zuckerberg is working with internet.org to get this plan in the air, but that the moment, things are still in the experimental phase. There's no telling when we'll get to see Facebook drones in the sky delivering Internet to the world, or how fast it would be. However, what we can say is this; the age of free Internet is upon us.

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