Facebook is reportedly in talks to buy US drone firm Titan Aerospace as part of its ongoing plans to bring internet access to the world's most remote regions.
According to TechCrunch, the deal could be worth as much as $60m as Facebook ploughs on with its Internet.org campaign, an initiative intended to bring internet access to the next five billion people in developing countries. The source said that following the buyout, Titan Aerospace would begin building 11,000 of their Solara 60 drones.
The Solara 60 is a solar-powered drone that can fly for up to five years at an altitude of 20km, transmitting data in a similar way to satellite internet connections.
The project bears a striking similarity to Google's Project Loon, which will see weather balloon-style vehicles with a payload of wireless internet hardware making use of the wind currents high up in the Earth's atmosphere.
The fact that both Facebook and Google are taking different approaches to solve a common problem demonstrates the value that both companies see in connecting the rest of the world to the internet. As web-based companies, providing access to and having control of internet access in places yet to go through a dot com-style boom opens up many new revenue streams.
Currently, technology projects in less connected regions such as parts of Africa are generally run by local companies taking advantage of what is a relatively open market. M-Pesa, the Kenyan mobile payments system, is perhaps the most famous example of an African technology business taking hold where established Western firms had not considered going.
Now firms such as Google, Facebook, Nokia, Samsung and Mozilla are all fighting to take hold of this market with internet services and cheaper smartphone devices, as the high-end device market is proving to be saturated.
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