Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is developing new mesh networks that will use millimeter wavebands to introduce the internet to rural areas.
The endeavor is part of the company’s expansion of its Free Basics Service that Facebook has been using in its internet.org campaign. The social network company has already applied for patents on the technology. Sanjai Kohli, an employee of the firm, has two patents that define the new data networks. They are also believed to open the door for the next generation of data networks.
The technology is also similar to that suggested by a firm called Starry, whose CEO is Chet Kanojia, the former chief executive of Aero. One of Facebook’s representatives stated that the project is affiliated the Connectivity Labs which happens to be a significant supporter of internet.org. The mission of the project is to expand Internet access to more than 4 billion people who are currently not connected because they either don’t have internet access or they can’t afford it.
There is a chance that Facebook’s technology might conflict with the internet connectivity ideas presented by Starry. Last year, the social network firm revealed its plan to deliver the internet to rural areas in Africa through satellite technology. Wireless millimeter waves are currently under tests by operators who are researching 5G mobile networks. The waves operate in the spectrum of 30 to 300GHz.
They are created like Mesh networks meaning signals can be bounced between antennas. One of the downsides is that a direct line of site is necessary because the signals cannot go through walls or obstacles. Facebook’s Free Basics allows access to the company’s social network and a few other websites, but it does not grant access to the rest of the internet. It is not yet clear whether the company plans to include the same approach once the millimeter-wave networks are up and running. Nonetheless, it is a clear indicator that there is a lot to look forward to as the firm tries to make things better for the rural settlements.