Facebook will match your balloon and up you a drone. Just as Google put a brave face on its Project Loon, the mission to blanket the world in internet broadcast from high-altitude balloons, Facebook has begun plans to launch a fleet of solar-powered wi-fi-beaming drones.
Facebook's Connectivity Lab isn't quite Google X, where the "don't be evil" set is crafting self-driving cars. But they do have similar goals — namely, getting Internet access to the two-thirds of humans who aren't yet posting selfies and handing away personal data to Facebook.
To fulfill this quest in partnership with Internet.org, Gizmodo's Gizmag says that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already bought out Ascenta, a UK-based firm that has been working on solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. The company's drones are huge and light — the size of a commercial aircraft, but as heavy as just four tires.
Does streaming Netflix and quickly closing out Pornhub when roommates approach from a drone-based signal make more sense than one from a balloon? Both actually have sizable challenges. Both drones and balloons must somehow hover between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, and the balloons are at the mercy of the wind, so maybe having remote-controlled drones makes more sense. Except, as engineer Yael Maguire told Mashable, the drones somehow have to say in the air for "years at a time."
Facebook's fleet could launch as early as next year. Meanwhile, Google's Loon is coming along, with internet speeds up to twice as fast as your iPhone's AT&T data connection in early tests. In related news, one Google balloon has also crashed in Nevada.