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Facebook's Internet.org Reaches 1 Billion Users; Aquila UAV Revealed

Facebook's Internet.org may be in for some controversy, but that's not stopping Mark Zuckerberg from expanding the service as fast as possible. He announced in a Facebook post that Internet.org service has now been expanded into Malawi, which brings the tally up to a total of one billion people that have access to the free Internet service. The launch in Malawi gives folks on the TNM and Airtel Malawi network free access. Approximately 9 million of those people will be logging on to the Internet for the very first time.

Internet.org is Facebook's attempt to bring free Internet service to the entire planet, although it exists in a very basic form. Because it is free, it is built to be as efficient as possible, meaning that there are few accessible websites, and those that are on Internet.org have to be very efficient with their data usage. Services such as video streaming, music streaming, VOIP and high-resolution images aren't allowed because they eat up too much bandwidth. Rich content in the way that we're used to experiencing doesn't exist on the Internet.org initiative.

In the post, Zuckerberg said that "Giving people free access is the right thing to do. We will keep connecting more people and more countries, and we won't stop until every person in the world can connect to the Internet."

The image accompanying the post hinted at a new UAV called "Aquila," which will be used to beam down Internet connectivity from above. The UAV will have a wingspan of 42 m and fly at a height of 18-27 km. In flight, Aquila will be able to provide service coverage to approximately 40-80 square km.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • Godloki
    UAV is online
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    "Basic Internet" - that internet is probably better than Australia's rubbish internet
    Reply
  • braneman
    Less developed countries? does that mean they'll be coming to anywhere they have Comcast?
    Reply
  • joex444
    Sure, it covers an area which contains 1B people, but it requires one to understand that "a total of one billion people that have access to the free Internet service" means "a total of one billion people who may obtain access to the free Internet service." It's quite different than trying to suggest 1B people are connected to it. Under that interpretation, having 9M new people would mean that 99.1% of people already had service. And this sort of service is for areas with low connectivity rates, closer to 9.1% than 99.1%.
    Reply
  • Dylan Orr
    Until the US Government gets rights to the uav and uses it as a foreign spy drone. Waiting for the new flash where like North Korea shoots this thing down in a flaming ball of 'omg you wrecked my facebook -o- copter' new flash .. lolz
    Reply