An increase in users is something that is vital to all Internet-based companies. But a lack of Internet access globally has prevented many people from becoming “connected.” Like Google, Facebook is looking to bring the Internet to developing nations -- but with drones
While Google is looking to provide Internet access through Project Loon, a global network of high-altitude balloons aimed at connecting people in rural and remote areas, Facebook is in talks with drone maker Titan Aerospace, according to a report from TechCrunch. By working with Titan, Facebook would be able to use drones to provide widespread Internet access in developing nations.
Neither Facebook nor Titan Aerospace has publicly confirmed these reports, but Facebook’s interest in this type of Internet expansion is well documented. Since 2013, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has led the Internet.org initiative that aims to “bring the Internet to the two-thirds of the world’s population that doesn't have it.”
During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Zuckerberg explained why it is important for developing countries to have reliable Internet access. In a blog post from 2013, Zuckerberg said that “there are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy,” but through Internet.org, Facebook and other companies will be able to make the Internet “available to those who cannot currently afford it."
Despite the massive partnership between Facebook, Qualcomm, Nokia, Samsung, and others, there has yet to be a public plan regarding how Internet.org will actually provide people with Internet access. However, the drones provided by Titan Aerospace could be turned into efficient Internet service providers.
Expanding the User Base
While there are benefits to the company that actually provides Internet access, the main reason that Facebook and Google are working toward connecting billions of people is that those members of society will then use Internet services once they get online. Since a large portion of the 2.7 billion people who are already online use sites like Google and Facebook, expanding the potential user base to 7 billion people is very important for any Internet service.
Google’s Project Loon has been in the works since 2011, but it has yet to actually provide Internet access to the countries that need it. Google says that it will also use Loon to bring disaster victims back online, something that drones could presumably do as well. Recently unveiled solar-powered drones from Titan could give Facebook an upper-hand if it does buy the company. But no matter which company brings people online, everyone will benefit.