Facebook eyes drones to connect the masses

It may hard to believe with the Bay Area’s omnipresence of Internet access, but around five billion of the seven billion people on this Earth are without the ability to connect.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, however, has plans to reduce that number to zero.

TechCrunch reports that the social networking behemoth is currently in discussions to purchase Titan Aerospace, an New Mexico based aerospace firm that specializes in solar powered drones.

Facebook is planning to using these drones, or “atmospheric satellites,” to bring Internet connectivity to places that don’t have any.

The aircraft, powered by solar cells, are capable of running for five years at a time without having to fuel up. They will fly at near-orbital heights — 65,000 feet to be precise — which happens to be just above the altitude regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The purchase is ballparked at about $60 million.

Facebook are leaders of the internet.org partnership, which seeks to connect two-thirds of the world’s population without Internet access. This is similar to Google’s Loon Project, which uses a network of balloons instead of drones.

The drones would flock in the thousands to blanket the atmosphere above areas without Internet.  A Facebook spokesman declined to comment, stating that the company does not comment on rumors and speculation.