Facebook has reportedly abandoned its plans to build and launch satellites to provide Internet to less connected places.
This is according to pay-walled technology investigation site The Information. The article states Facebook planned to spend as much as $1 billion on the project, but decided not to go through with it because costs were escalating above budget.
In March, Facebook announced its plans to harness satellite, drone and other technology as part of an ambitious and costly effort to beam Internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped parts of the world. This was to be through the Facebook Connectivity Lab, which comprises people from organisations like the US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Boeing.
The Information’s article also stated search engine giant Google too had scrapped its satellite plans due to rising costs. Google also planned to use the technology to connect more people to the Internet.
However, the tech company race-to-space is not over, according to The Washington Post. South African-born Elon Musk recently asked the US government for permission to launch 4 000 satellites into the sky with similar ambitions to Facebook, aiming to beam high-speed Internet to remote corners of the globe.
Musk says his project will be different to other failed attempts as his company, SpaceX, has its own rockets. He believes a larger number of smaller satellites will be easier to maintain than one large satellite.
Facebook had planned to use satellites to extend the social networking company’s Internet.org effort, aimed at connecting billions of people who do not currently have Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said the company envisioned a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites delivering Internet access to different regions of the world.
Invisible, infrared laser beams were to allow Facebook to dramatically boost the speed of Internet connections provided by the various aircraft, Facebook explained in a PDF about the project.
No mention was made about the drone and other types of technology and if the tech giant will still continue to experiment with those.