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  • Of all the planets in the universe that we know of, the Earth is the only one with WiFi.

  • Also breathable oxygen.

  • So count your blessings.

  • Hey there denizens of the internet, Jules here for DNews.

  • Unless you're somehow watching this on a bootleg flea market DNews DVD, you are in

  • the top 40%, congratulations!

  • I'm talking, of course, about people who have internet access around the world.

  • But unlike you lucky internet pioneers, there are another 4.3 billion people on the planet,

  • who either have no way of accessing the web, or can't afford to.

  • In fact, while Europe has a connection rate of about 75%, in Africa, that number is closer

  • to just 20%.

  • So, a few technology companies have tried to bridge that gap.

  • First up was Google, which began testing its program in 2013.

  • Google's suggestion?

  • LTE equipped balloons.

  • If sending WiFi capable balloons into the sky sounds like the ravings of a lunatic,

  • well, you're not the only one.

  • Which is why Google dubbed the projectLoon.”

  • Well that and it's the last four letters ofballoon.”

  • And a Loon is a kind of bird.

  • Sometimes those Googlers are a little too clever.

  • Obviously there are some inherent challenges to using balloons.

  • Early tests had helium leaks which brought the balloon back down to Earth after just

  • a day or two.

  • Current R&D is focused on keeping balloons up for a hundred days or more, and its going

  • pretty well.

  • Another problem is that balloons are not known for being easy to control, that string they're

  • attached to doesn't really take directions.

  • So Google's plan to control the balloons is to take advantage of the stratified winds

  • at different altitudes by raising and lowering the Loon as high as 20km.

  • With a network of hundreds of balloons all being monitored by a command center Google

  • thinks they can create uninterrupted wireless coverage.

  • Plus, the balloons are solar powered.

  • And if you're worried about losing internet at night when you're trying to netflix and

  • chill, don't worry, the solar panels charge up a battery to keep the chilling happening

  • all night.

  • Not to be outdone, Facebook is trying to deliver all your favorite cat videos by drone.

  • The drone, named Aquila, which is latin for Eagle because everything's got to be a bird

  • reference, is a giant flying solar powered wing.

  • The Aquila will use an infrared laser that pulses on and off billions of times a second

  • to transmit data instead of sending it over radio frequencies the way WiFi does.

  • It's kind of like a fiber optic cable but without the cable.

  • Basically facebook will literally beam memes.

  • And if you're into beans, it'll beam bean memes.

  • But there's a problem.

  • Wings only work when air is flowing over them, so, the drones need to keep moving.

  • And since they're solar powered, it would be inefficient to store energy for the motors

  • to use at night.

  • Facebook tackles both these problems by having the drone gain altitude during the day and

  • gently drift down at night.

  • Using this technique, an Aquila can stay in the air for 90 days.

  • Its altitude will vary between 18 and 27 km, at least 6 km higher than commercial aircraft.

  • Facebook's Aquila will transmit a limited internet service calledfree basics”,

  • which provides forecasts, job searches, and news for free.

  • But, obviously, nothing is reallyfree”.

  • Free basics has been accused of violating net neutrality because it limits access to

  • Facebook's competitors.

  • India actually banned thefree basicsapp on those grounds in February this year.

  • Even the balloons have strings attached, hmm.

  • Google controls almost 2 thirds of the search engine market, and an influx of new users

  • means an influx of new revenue.

  • There is still a long way to go before the world really has global free internet, but

  • as long as there's money to be made, these projects will likely keep happening.

  • On the other hand, if you're sick and tired of the internet (I get it), check out this

  • video by Laura Ling, who visited a town that bans cell phones and WiFi, just like its the

  • 90s.

  • So is having free internet worth the price tag of playing into facebook's or google's

  • master plan?

Of all the planets in the universe that we know of, the Earth is the only one with WiFi.

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B1 US wifi facebook drone solar km powered

Can We Really Give the Entire World Internet?

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/18
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