Snoops of IEEE Spectrum disclosed an exciting news this May. Apparently, Facebook is surreptitiously experimenting with a satellite that might be capable of beaming internet down to Earth via millimeter wave radio signals.
The parent company of WhatsApp has filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the name PointView Tech LLC. The said project is considered ingenious in efficiently providing internet access to underserved and unserved areas throughout the world.
As per the website Wired, Facebook has confirmed that the speculated satellite project Athena, is indeed a Facebook venture. This furthermore confirms that Facebook is a supporter of satellite internet technology.
A Facebook spokesperson affirmed the notion of being satellite internet supporter by saying, “While we have nothing to share about specific projects now, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where Internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent.”
As per the sources, Facebook plans to launch the Athena project in early 2019. It’s coming up dang fast. It is highly unlikely that Athena will provide a considerable amount of internet all by itself. Companies like Space X and OneWeb who launched their first internet satellites in February hope to achieve their targets by launching thousands of small satellites (literally) into low Earth orbit to constitute an entire constellation that will beam internet to the Earth.
Facebook’s another attempt
Although the tech giant had expressed its goal of providing internet to billions of underserved people globally, it’s earlier two projects proved to be unfruitful.
Earlier in this year, Facebook made an announcement regarding the termination of its project Aquila. As a high-flying- solar-powered drone Aquila aimed to connect approximately 4 billion people in isolated parts of the world.
Facebook set off Aquila project in 2014. The solar-powered drone completed the second full-scale test flight successfully in 2017. Another similar project was terminated by the social networking site in 2017 which focused on replacing cellular services with a small helicopter drone project in emergency situations.
The objective was to send a helicopter laced with telecommunicational equipment hundreds of meters up in the sky to allow it to connect to power lines and fiber in places where due to disaster or any other factors wireless capacity are compromised.
Other Competitors in the Run
However, Facebook is not to be considered the only one in this field. Softbank-backed OneWeb and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are some of the competitors with similar ambitions.
SpaceX strategizes to unveil a network of satellites to offer broadband services around the planet. Though there are no statements commenting on the commercial availability of the project, SpaceX has already launched model satellites into the trajectory.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced earlier this year, “First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, are deployed and communicating to Earth stations.”
Other than internet satellites, tech companies are also working on alternative options to beam radios. Google has made a significant project with its Project Loon which provides a broadband connection through balloons. With its expansion already in some parts of Africa, the company plans to roll out the project in India.
Microsoft also plans to introduce White Space project that will provide internet through unused spectrum between the two TV channels.