The Internet-Connected Balloons and Drones Are Coming
Look out, birds: You’re about to be joined in the sky by WiFi routers.
Facebook and Google are both working on flying apparatuses that can bring Internet to the people below, executives from both companies confirmed at separate events at the Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona yesterday. First, Google revealed a little more about its plans to connect more people to the Internet using balloons and solar-powered drones; later in the day, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg reiterated that his company is working on a wide range of flying devices and that it is committed to getting more people online however it can.
Google executive Sundar Pichai actually made two fairly major announcements about the company’s airborne Internet efforts at MWC. First, he said, Google’s Project Loon balloons, which float above the ground and beam down low-cost Internet access to unconnected locations, can now stay in the air for 6 months. That’s a big improvement from the 100 days the Loon balloons previously achieved. (Official Project Loon tagline, by the way: “Balloon-Powered Internet for Everyone.”)