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    Facebook's Solar-Powered Internet Drone Giving Google's Project Loon Competition
    James Nagy
    / Categories: Technology

    Facebook's Solar-Powered Internet Drone Giving Google's Project Loon Competition

    The race has been on to extend internet connectivity to all corners of the world.  We’ve been keeping up with Google’s Project Loon’s progress for the past few years.  This past Thursday, Facebook announced that it had successfully completed a test flight of its unmanned solar-powered drone Aquila.

    Aquila is Facebook's lightweight, high-altitude drone aircraft.  This is a new concept, as Google’s Project Loon is using weather balloons instead.  In its test flight, Aquila flew at a few thousand feet for 96 minutes in Yuma, Arizona.  The idea is to have a fleet of Aquilas that can fly for at least three months at a time.

    From International Business Times:

    The aircraft is expected to use new laser-beam technology to provide access to fast internet for people in a 60-mile radius as it circles the area above. The signal it emits will be received by the antennas of small towers and dishes on the ground, which will convert the signal into Wi-Fi or 4G networks.

    According to Facebook, the drone’s wingspan is wider than a Boeing 737 [and] weighs less than 1,000 pounds […] Its power consumption stands at about 5,000 watts, which is roughly the same as three hairdryers. Facebook is making attempts to refine the current model by making it even lighter and more energy efficient.

    Project Loon, on the other hand, is using high-altitude, wind-propelled balloons that circle at extremely high altitudes.  The mobile operators extend wireless networks into remote areas without running fiber optic cable or building cell towers.

    The same basic idea behind both with different approaches to get there.  Both have been in the works for awhile now.  What is the benefit?  Well, both Google and Facebook are two of the top online businesses.  Their continued growth includes continued growth in new areas.  That’s not to say that they are doing this solely for their businesses, but internet growth does benefit them.

    With more than half the world offline currently, this is a big undertaking.  I’m sure we’re still a few years out from a solid solution, but it is definitely interesting to track the progress along the way.

    In the meantime, who are you pulling for? Do you think Facebook’s drone approach is better? What are your thoughts on Google’s Project Loon’s progress so far?  Let’s hear what you think –comment below!

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    James Nagy

    James NagyJames Nagy

    Looking for a business consultant, how can I help? As Co-Founder and Managing Partner of J&S Tech Designs, I have three decades of experience and expertise to share with you and help your business, product, or idea thrive.

    Other posts by James Nagy
    Contact author Full biography

    Full biography

    As a strategic leader and entrepreneur, James Nagy has a record of generating growth by leveraging the latest technologies to drive sales, marketing, product development, and profitability. He is known for identifying and capitalizing on market trends, developing effective tactics for implementation, enhancing operating performance, and serving as a trusted advisor and business partner. Skilled at working across operations, James builds strong, cross-functional relationships and communicates complex technical information to diverse internal and external stakeholders.

    A big picture visionary, James identifies and reacts to market trends, providing disruptive strategies that go beyond IT to include sales, marketing, and product portfolio management. Building on his experience as Director of Software Development with premier companies Midas International Corporation and SXC Health Solutions, Inc., James launched two successful consulting companies, Sprocket Websites Inc. and J&S Tech Designs. As the Managing Director, he provides innovative solutions to clients in small- and mid-cap companies.

    When he is not advising other business leaders, James lends his expertise to a variety of organizations. He is a Founding Member & Committee Member of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce; he serves on multiple teams and committees for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce; he is a Founding Member of the Chicago Area DNN User Group, and he serves on the Board of Directors of the New West Symphony. In his free time, James enjoys Sci-Fi, coin collecting, traveling and wine tasting.



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