Their massive solar-powered wingspans will allow them to circle high above the surface of the Earth, beyond storms, shifting winds, and rain.


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Below them, a whole new population of individuals will be able to access a reliable Internet connection and open up new connections and opportunities.  That’s the goal that Facebook and Google are pursing as they’re both building solar-powered drone prototypes designed to establish a whole new type of Internet network where there was none before.

Internet Access And Improvements, Near And Far
After about 14 months in the making, Facebook’s Aquila drone will be tested for flight in the upper atmosphere. Once it’s lifted via helium balloon, The Aquila will beam data to other drones in its network and to Internet users on the ground through lasers.

With intentions to launch hundreds of drones, Facebook is aiming to deliver web connections to parts of the world where access has been mostly unreliable to non-existent as a result of current infrastructure limitations. This technology may even improve web speed and service in remote areas of already connected nations.

Will Competition Breed Innovation?
Google’s Solara drone and Project Loon—which would establish an Internet network via high-altitude balloons—are being developed and tested for similar purposes.

Even though the Solara 50’s first flight this past May didn’t last long after take off, Google is still working to flesh out a number of different technologies that may also change the way the world connects.  As the competition between the web giant and Facebook become fiercer, the results could come faster than expected.

Credit: Solen Feyissa

How Will Access Change The World?
In the near future, these projects could make it so that 4 billion people will be able to regularly access the web for the very first time.

That new level of connectivity may serve the greater good and even stir up potential political and social issues, but it will also greatly expand reach for business purposes—and for more than just telecommunications companies that will ultimately make the drone web service operational.

All manner of content, from news reports to how-to videos, from online course-work to industrial product catalogs will reach more people faster.

When The Web Finally Becomes Worldwide
A web that is truly worldwide could represent a new era for people and the Internet as a whole. When more than half of the world’s population joins the rest of us and gains access to the immeasurable power of the web, how will that change communication, commerce, and relationships?

Credit: One Laptop per Child

When a faster, global Internet is established, how will the web content itself change—in addition to the way in which it’s delivered and accessed?

Share your thoughts on this development in the comments.

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