We might like to think we live in a connected world. One in which every corner of the globe has equal access to the power of the internet.
However, this digital era of ours still includes large portions of the world where internet access is a challenge. The tech giants of Silicon Valley have been trying to tackle the issue. This issue of global connectivity may, in essence, seem like an easy enough riddle to solve. Proposed solutions have included the use of aerial innovations such as drones, satellites and balloons.
Things have proven more complicated than expected. Significant amounts of capital have likely gone into building the infrastructure for global internet. Resources have likely come from across the technology sphere. Google, Amazon and Facebook have been investing heavily into all sorts of solutions ranging from satellites and drone services to submarine cables.
Among the recent developments that have emerged from these colossal efforts to bring people online, a joint venture established in 2017 by SoftBank and U.S. aerospace company Aerovironment (known as HapsMobile), has announced a partnership with Loon (an Alphabet unit developing a network of balloons that could beam internet access to remote areas around the world).
Loon isn’t alone in its mission, as more than a dozen Alphabet subsidiaries have joined in and become part of these internet access initiatives. Loon itself was spun out of Google’s parent company as an independent entity after some time in the making.
Loon’s tool of choice is the balloon, which has the capability to rise up into the stratosphere about 20km above the Earth.
Because winds can vary quite significantly in terms of direction and speed, the company has had to use algorithms and predictive models as solutions in order to compensate for the uncertainty of the elements. This is to try and ensure that the balloons stay on course in the intended direction.
Since the project’s launch, Loon’s incredible travelling balloons have achieved some 30 million kilometres of distance through the skies. This presents an opportunity for the implementation of better internet coverage in remote areas.
In fact, the company has revealed plans to deploy its technology to send high-speed internet access to rural populations in Kenya.
Balloons aren’t the only hope for remote area internet accessibility. As the internet of things (IoT) and 5G continue to gain steam, the possibility of using solar-powered drones also comes into play. These can link with existing telecommunications infrastructure and ultimately reinforce the capacity for better coverage. If unforeseen events like natural disasters hit the ground, drones could be the answer to lasting connectivity.
Boosting worldwide internet access seems to be a recurring theme for tech giants, as Facebook gradually unveils a massive array of projects that aim to increase coverage, particularly in developing regions like Latin America, Africa and Asia.
However, their drone projects may be their boldest moves into bringing connectivity to remote areas. The company has also attempted to use existing infrastructure and advanced software to reach its goal of complete internet connectivity worldwide (while working to ensure affordability in terms of costing and resources).
New talent should be viewed as a part of this collective effort towards increasing internet connectivity worldwide. Drone experts can be developed using training programmes, courses. Getting certified today could be a way for new entrants to prepare themselves for effectively applying drone technology towards the benefit of the world.
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