Richi Jennings

Will Facebook's drones pop Google's loony bubbles?

March 29, 2014 3:32 PM EDT

Facebook
Zuckerberg: Droning on.

Train, bus, bike, or automobile? Regularly, most of us choose one in this list to get us where we need to go. If you are Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) -- you likely include drones, satellites, and lasers in your "go to" list. Not quite satiated with WhatsApp and Oculus Rift, we find Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg snacking on Ascenta: A UK company specializing in solar-powered drones.

Zuckerberg -- in a recently published paper -- endorsed drones as the best way to provide WiFi to remote users without Internet access (and by extension, Facebook). Floating a competing idea using balloons, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) also has plans to generously provide free WiFi for the currently less-fortunate Google-less. Many bloggers -- caused by incessant hype and hot air about free aerial Internet -- now believe one, or perhaps both of the pie-in-the-sky plans are for the birds.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers go fly a kite.

Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.

 
Staid Zach Miners is determined:

Mark Zuckerberg is determined to bring Internet access...and thus Facebook access...to every corner of the globe. On Friday [Mark Zuckerberg] said...how he plans to do that, and it involves drones, satellites and...laser beams fired across space.
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With drones, Facebook will be able to “precisely control the location of these aircraft, unlike balloons,” Zuckerberg wrote in a paper on the topic. And drones, he said elsewhere, “have more endurance than balloons.”  MORE


 
But Mike Elgan wants to have fun:

Facebook...is suffering from Google envy.
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Why does a social network need a space program? Wrong question!
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I suspect the real reason for all this is that Zuck is tired of Google having all the fun.  MORE


 
Straight from the horse's mouth:

Last August, Facebook partnered with leading technology companies to launch Internet.org — a global effort to make affordable basic internet services available to everyone in the world.
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Connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our time. When people have access to the internet, they can not only connect with their friends, family and communities...they can also gain access to...information to help find jobs, start businesses, access healthcare, education and financial services, and have a greater say in their societies.  MORE


 
Loony Jack Clark drones on about balloons:

One reason why Zuckerberg is so keen on drones is users can "precisely control the location of these aircraft, unlike balloons."
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Zuck's approach stands in contrast to Google which...said that it sees a floating swarm of "Loon" balloons...as the best way to provide internet access to areas...with low population density.
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Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates...[has a] seemingly grim view of both Google and Facebook's attempts to claw as many eyeballs online as possible.
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"As a priority? It's a joke," Gates [said] in November. "I certainly love the IT thing. But when we want improve lives, you've got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition."  MORE


 
And Mark Hachman wants frickin' laser beams:

In suburban environments, Facebook is looking at a new architecture: a plane that flies at roughly 20,000 meters, [powered] by solar panels.
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And how will they all be connected together? Frickin’ laser beams, but mounted only on the satellites themselves. Facebook has actually hired some of the pioneers in the field of..."free-space optics" to solve the problem.  MORE


 
So Kevin Fitchard steps aside:

Both [Google's balloons] and [Facebook's] drones would fly at the same altitude...but aircraft are better suited to dealing with the rigors of that height, Zuckerberg said.
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Zuckerberg makes plenty of good points, but he does seem to be sidestepping the point that Google isn't necessarily looking for precision and control in its aerial network.  MORE


 
Meanwhile, Brian Fung tells us everything we want to know (but were afraid to ask):

Facebook's sci-fi take on connecting the rest of the world to broadband may sound magical. ... Mark Zuckerberg has revealed more -- a lot more -- about how this system is going to work.  MORE


 

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