Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Facebook’s plane-sized drone Aquila could bring internet access to all, though not everyone’s pleased

Facebook has unveiled a solar-powered drone, Aquila, which it says will help bring internet connectivity to the world’s most remote regions.

The company says the aircraft has the same wingspan as a Boeing 737, though it’s also said to be significantly lighter, as it features a carbon fibre frame. It’s designed to operate between 60,000 and 90,000 feet in the air, circling a particular area for up to 90 days at a time.

According to Facebook’s VP of global engineering and infrastructure, Jay Parikh, it will offer internet speeds of 10 gigabits per second, beaming data down to the ground.

“Our goal is to accelerate the development of a new set of technologies that can drastically change the economics of deploying internet infrastructure,” he said.

“Our intention is not to build networks and then operate them ourselves, but rather to quickly advance the state of these technologies to the point that they become viable solutions for operators and other partners to deploy.”

“When finished, our laser communications system can be used to connect our aircraft with each other and with the ground, making it possible to create a stratospheric network that can extend to even the remotest regions of the world.”

Aquila was developed by Facebook’s UK-based aerospace team, and will be tested in the US later this year. There’s no word yet on when the company plans to officially roll it out.

It represents the latest major development in its Internet.org project, an initiative created with the intention of bringing internet access to every person on the planet.

SEE ALSO: How should you be surfing the internet?

However, not everybody’s impressed.  

Internet.org has attracted criticism because it only provides free access to a select group of websites and services, including Facebook. The open web, meanwhile, remains off limits.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.