Facebook Helicopters To Deliver Internet In An Emergency

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 20, 2017


After building a solar-powered plane to help deliver internet access nearly two years ago, Facebook this time, comes up with a helicopter to deploy the internet during an emergency. This announcement made at its F8 developer conference, is part of Mark Zuckerberg’s vision to provide Internet access across the globe - even to the remotest locations.

Known as the “Tether-tenna,” the helicopter would provide internet access and could be deployed for months in the case of an emergency. Not just that, it would restore connectivity when the online infrastructure has been damaged.

“When completed, this technology will be able to be deployed immediately and operate for months at a time to bring back connectivity in case of an emergency,” manager of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab Yael Maguire wrote in a blog post.

In the past year, Facebook has attempted to make internet accessible for all. In 2016, Facebook launched Terragraph, a “multi-node wireless system focused on bringing high-speed internet connectivity to dense urban areas,” and Aquila, a drone that beams an internet signal from the air.

“Developing next-generation technology takes a lot of testing and iteration — we know these projects will take a decade to develop,” Maguire wrote. “But if we’re going to build communities that work for everyone, that starts with building connectivity that works for everyone.” 

It’s not clear at this point whether Facebook would build a fleet of helicopters or work with telecom partners to build fleets of their own. “This is still in the early stages of development and lots of work is needed to ensure that it will be able operate autonomously for months at a time, but we’re excited about the progress so far,” Maguire said.

Tether-tenna is one of a growing number of strategies Facebook is pursuing to ensure perpetual internet access around the world. As Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer  informed CNet, ”Our goal is simple. We want to connect the 4.1 billion people who aren’t already connected to the internet.”