Drone and Balloon WiFi Coming to the Sky near You
November 10, 2015
Google and Facebook have put their differences aside to expand Internet access to four billion people. Technology Review explains in “Facebook;s Internet Drone Team Is Collaborating With Google’s Stratospheric Balloons Project” how both companies have filed documented with the US Federal Communications Commission to push international law to make it easier to have aircraft fly 12.5 miles or 20 kilometers above the Earth, placing it in the stratosphere.
Google has been working on balloons that float in the stratosphere that function as aerial cell towers and Facebook is designing drones the size of aircraft that are tethered to the ground that serve the same purpose. While the companies are working together, they will not state how. Both Google and Facebook are working on similar projects, but the aerial cell towers marks a joint effort where they putting aside their difference (for the most part) to improve information access.
“However, even if Google and Facebook work together, corporations alone cannot truly spread Internet access as widely as is needed to promote equitable access to education and other necessities, says Nicholas Negroponte, a professor at MIT’s Media Lab and founder of the One Laptop Per Child Project. ‘I think that connectivity will become a human right,’ said Negroponte, opening the session at which Facebook and Google’s Maguire and DeVaul spoke. Ensuring that everyone gets that right requires the Internet to be operated similar to public roads, and provided by governments, he said.”
Quality Internet access not only could curb poor education, but it could also improve daily living. People in developing countries would be able to browse information to remedy solutions and even combat traditional practices that do more harm than good.
Some of the biggest obstacles will be who will maintain the aerial cell towers and also if they will pose any sort of environmental danger.
Whitney Grace, November 10, 2015