Facebook, one of the main backers of Internet.org proposal, that aspires to bring inexpensive Internet access to 5 billion people in world who still are short of connectivity, is in talks with company which could aid additional that agenda. Facebook is purchasing Titan Aerospace, manufacturers of near-orbital, solar-powered drones that can fly for 5 years with no needing to land. Price for this acquisition is approximately $60 million.
Facebook is paying attention to use these high-flying drones to parts of world where there is no Internet access, starting with Africa. Company would start by making 11,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly “Solara 60″ model.
These drones are atmospheric satellites which can carry out most of operations of orbital satellite, but the best part is they are cheaper and more versatile. Drones could potentially contain several uses, comprising weather monitoring, Earth imaging, disaster recovery, or communications, company has said, but obviously Facebook would be interested in that last part.
Solara 50 and 60 models can be initiated at night by using power from internal battery packs, then when sun rises, they can accumulate sufficient energy to rise to 20KM above sea level where they can stay for 5 years with no needing to land or refill. Such capabilities make them perfect for regional Internet systems, like those that Internet.org would be determined on.
Titan Aerospace is confidentially held venture with R&D facilities in New Mexico. Company has raised the unrevealed amount of financial support through seed and Series A and A-1 rounds, and had proclaimed in October 2013 it opened B round.
Titan is at present led by CEO Vern Raburn, before founder and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. Company was established in 2012 by Max Yaney (CTO), to manufacture what it refers to as “atmosats,” new kinds of UAVs that do work of near-Earth satellites at fraction of cost.
Designation of satellites is significant here, as idea has been to position these aircraft above airspace which FAA regulates in U.S. Class A airspace ends at 60,000 feet stateside, and above that U.S. doesn’t control. That means the only question in launching these in U.S. would be early climb. In other parts of world, laws will, certainly, differ. But in budding markets Internet.org is concentrated on, it is probable they are not as far along in regulating new technology.
Subsequent the acquisition, all of Titan Aerospace’s invention would be for Internet.org project only, according to source familiar with matter.
Internet.org project has a competition with Google’s own R&D effort known as “Project Loon,” that would involve balloons, not aircraft.
If Facebook could scheme weak but free Internet to budding nations by the use of Titan Aerospace drones, it could then build a primary version of WhatsApp accessible to those users. They might not be able to post or view photos, but they possible could post messages and view status updates with no paying for Internet. Whereas phones are getting cheaper, it is the data costs which make web high-priced to much of the world. Titan’s drones could aid Facebook fix that.
Facebook’s achievement of Onavo could provide hand, too. We hear team is hard at work on data compression technologies which would permit the similar functions to need less transmitted data to complete. Onavo-optimized WhatsApp or Facebook applications could operate on weaker Internet signal, like from drones, as they do not require sending or receiving as much data.
Several enquire why Facebook would worry about getting these parts of world on Internet if they at present have such little purchasing power that it is hard to make money off of ads demonstrated to them. There is the selfless side of Internet.org, but when if it is a matter of business, Facebook is playing a long game. It expects that with time, every person in a world will expand reasonable access to Internet and Smartphones, that could aid them join knowledge economy and increase more purchasing power.
If Facebook can utilize Titan’s drones to be someone’s initial experience on Internet, they are liable to get extremely addicted into social network’s service and ultimately become profitable lifetime user.