Facebook to use satellites, drones to spread the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO, March 27 Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:22pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO, March 27 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc is harnessing satellite, drone and other technology as a part of an ambitious and costly effort to beam Internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped parts of the world.

The world's No. 1 social network said on Thursday it has hired aerospace and communications experts from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and its Ames Research Center for the new "Connectivity Lab" project.

"Today, we're sharing some details of the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone," Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook.

He gave few specifics and did not specify a time frame.

The move extends the social networking company's Internet.org effort, in which Facebook has been working with telecommunications carriers to make Internet access more available and affordable.

"We're going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too," Zuckerberg said in his post.

Google Inc, the world's largest Internet search engine, is also driving an effort along the same lines. It announced plans last year to use solar-powered balloons to deliver Internet access to remote regions of the world. (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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