After Amazon announced it is developing drones, another internet giant — Facebook — is getting ready to take to the air. The social media giant is in negotiations to purchase drone maker Titan Aerospace. Sources told TechCrunch the price tag could be $60 million for the aerospace company. The purchase could help bring internet services to the entire world.
In August, managers at Facebook announced the Internet.org Inititive. This program is designed to bring internet access to areas of the world without connections. Working with Facebook on the program are Samsung, Nokia, and three other companies.
If the purchase goes through, Facebook could begin flying drones over large parts of Africa. This move would be another step toward providing internet service to five people people who do not currently have access.
Drones developed by Titan Aerospace are capable of flying for five years without landing. They could provide an inexpensive alternative to satellites. Sources say Facebook is planning to build 11,000 drones in the first wave of the program. After Africa, the program would be expanded to other continents.
Google is also working on a similar system for worldwide internet access, called Project Loon. Instead of drones, that proposal would use solar-powered balloons to provide service.
Of course, without computers, access to the global network is meaningless. That will be a major challenge for proponents of a global internet connection.
Internet access had a significant impact on many aspects of life in those areas who currently have access. No one knows how connections to the Web could change the developing world. It could free public thought in areas with totalitarian regimes.
Best of all, this new proposal could give new life to all those old pictures of cats on the Internet.