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Facebook Goes Back to Old Technologies to Connect the Next Billion

by Loknath Das

Facebook Goes Back to Old Technologies to Connect the Next Billion

After abandoning its plan to develop a solar-powered drone called Aquila and grounding a helicopter drone project to connect people in remote areas, Facebookhas gone back to the basics, working on technologies like mesh Wi-Fi and Express Wi-Fi in partnership with equipment manufacturers and operators.

“Our team has been developing software that simplifies network management for operators and enables them to deploy mesh Wi-Fi networks along with working on new routing framework, optimised to manage 50 or potentially even more access points,” Vish Ponnampalam, Wireless Systems Engineer at Facebook wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

A wireless mesh network (WMN) is a communications network made up of radio nodes. A mesh refers to rich interconnection among devices or nodes.

The social networking giant is running a pilot programme for mesh Wi-Fi networking in Tanzania and has also put teams to expand its Express Wi-Fi programme in Dubai, Israel and Ireland.

“The technology we are developing is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for Wi-Fi networks,” Ponnampalam added.

The Express Wi-Fi initiative, that offers Internet facility through public hotspots, was first launched in five countries – India, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia.

“We’re excited to continue improving the technology with the goal of sharing it with more partners around the world,” said Ponnampalam.

The Express Wi-fi initiative reached India last year in partnership with telecom operator Bharti Airtel, local ISPs and over 500 local entrepreneurs.

In June this year, Facebook announced it has decided to abandon the Aquila project that was aimed to deliver Internet to nearly four billion people in remote parts of the world.

Facebook also discontinued a small helicopter drone project that could temporarily replace cellular services in emergency situations.


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