Facebook doubles its efforts to increase internet connectivity in both urban and rural areas with inadequate infrastructure. The project aims to provide a smooth and accessible connection which will benefit millions of people worldwide who depend on Facebook for communication purposes.
As a result, the social media giant introduces tiny, almost pocket-sized, drones to boost mobile data speeds. The drones were designed to carry ‘high-density solid-state drives that could then be used to ferry data,’ according to a report from Business Insider.
The drones will act as a mesh network between a grounded connection and a user’s smartphone to facilitate high-bandwidth data transfers, as per ‘The Verge.’
The project called ‘Catalina’ started in 2017 but was canceled due to unknown reasons. After two years, the company sees the positive implications of this equipment to the growing number of Facebook users both in urban and far-flung areas. The name ‘Catalina’ is derived from the California island which relies mostly on pigeons to carry its messages to the mainland and back.
In fact, Facebook created the pseudonym for Catalina as ‘pigeonet’ although the drones were believed to be closer in size to sparrows.
However, this is not the first time Facebook develops drone-related projects.
Back in 2017, Facebook has discontinued a small helicopter drone project that could temporarily replace cellular services in emergencies. From the data acquired by Z6Mag, the said project called ‘Tether-tenna’ was cut off a few months after being launched at the F8 developer conference in May.
The idea was to send a helicopter, equipped with telecommunications devices, hundreds of meters up in the air to be able to tether to fiber and power lines in places without wireless capacity or its connectivity resources were compromised due to a disaster or other factors.
Today, Facebook continues its goal to administer aerial internet project after abandoning it in June 2018. The previous plan was to develop high-flying solar powered drones called ‘Aquila’ that aim to deliver Internet access to nearly four billion in remote parts of the world. In 2017, the solar-powered drone completed the second full-scale test flight, but the said project was discarded a year after, due to a lack of support from tech companies.
Tether-tenna was a much smaller scale idea compared to Aquila.
After two unsuccessful attempts of introducing helicopter-carrying drones projects, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues the company’s goal to connect the world and help people who do not have online access all the opportunities of the Internet.
The use of fixed-wing bird-sized drones will provide people in remote locations the luxury of streaming data-intensive content such as videos and photos. Facebook, however, did not plan the technology to become a complete replacement for people’s mobile networks. Instead, the drones were meant to relay information between traditional mobile infrastructure from afar and people’s phones.
The company, taking its move in a broader context, conjured the project to find more users for its platform which makes sense because Facebook discloses that the drones meant to give people a better way to watch heavy contents such as videos and view photos.
Facebook is no stranger in creating products which lure more people into using its app including the controversial Free Basics service. The said free service has limitations wherein users cannot access to websites outside of Facebook and are unable to see photos and videos. Now the company will be developing another experimental project meant to boost slow mobile internet speeds that targets not only those who use the basic service but also those in remote areas who seek for entertainment inside the Facebook app.
Although the social networking giant still has its Internet.org which brings internet and the advantages of connectivity to the portion of the world that doesn’t have enough accessibility and enough resources to enjoy the advancement of technology, Facebook sees the benefits that these drones may offer to the public.
So far, it is not entirely clear how pigeonet would’ve worked, but the public is still hoping that Facebook will continue this project in the future, after two unsuccessful attempts with ‘Tether-tenna and Aquila.’