close button internet by laser-wielding solar-powered high-altitude drones

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Automated laser-wielding solar-powered high-altitude drones! This, people, is the future of the Internet., Facebook’s plan to bring the Internet to the next billion users, revealed last week the next step in the plan: solar-powered drones that fly at high-altitudes to avoid air traffic and weather systems; that beam the Internet down to people on the earth using a custom built laser system that transfers data 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is faster than industry standards; with the wingspan of a Boeing 737 but weighing only as much as a car; and that look somewhat like stealth aircraft in shape and color.

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Guided by GPS, they fly in circles to maintain Internet coverage over a particular geographic area. They can fly for months at a time, and can be seamlessly be swapped out with a replacement if necessary!

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Is this the stuff of science fiction, or is it a glimpse of the reality that is going to bring the Facebook version of the Internet to the next billion users? It’s called Aquila and it seems to be making Facebook investors happy.

Decide for yourself: check out the video below:

I'm excited to announce we’ve completed construction of our first full scale aircraft, Aquila, as part of our effort. Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time. We've also made a breakthrough in laser communications technology. We've successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That's ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away.This effort is important because 10% of the world’s population lives in areas without existing internet infrastructure. To affordably connect everyone, we need to build completely new technologies. Using aircraft to connect communities using lasers might seem like science fiction. But science fiction is often just science before its time. Over the coming months, we will test these systems in the real world and continue refining them so we can turn their promise into reality. Here’s a video showing the building of Aquila.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, 30 July 2015