Light Reading

Facebook Buys British Drone Specialist

Ray Le Maistre
3/31/2014
50%
50%

In his latest effort to connect the world to the Internet, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has acquired a small British company that is developing solar-powered drones.

Facebook has bought Ascenta, a five-person outfit in the UK that, according to a blog posted by Zuckerberg, "created early versions of Zephyr, which became the world's longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft."

The Ascenta team is joining the Connectivity Lab, set up by Facebook to "build drones, satellites and lasers [free space optics] to deliver the internet to everyone." Those efforts will be fed into the work of Internet.Org, the partnership announced in August 2013 that aims to make the Internet accessible to the "two thirds of the world not yet connected." (See Internet.Org: Small Data Bites Into the Digital Divide?)

According to a Bloomberg report, Ascenta was acquired for less than $20 million.

Zuckerberg appears to be very interested in any technology that will help connect the world, and he has been linked to other drone companies. (See Flyin' Facebook: Now Zuckerberg Eyes Drones?)

Here's a video where Facebook's Yael Maguire lays out some of the concepts that the Connectivity Lab team is working on:

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), meanwhile, is exploring the potential of balloons as a way to provide Internet access in hard-to-reach areas. (See Broadband: It's All Hot Air for Google.)

Facebook isn't the only company interested in unmanned craft, of course, though Amazon wants to use the aircraft for different reasons. (See Amazon Wants Delivery Drones.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(16)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/18/2014 | 11:09:02 PM
Re: Solar drones
The concept is cool & sounds fun. But I think there's so many reasons why it's impractical. Most of them involve human intervention.
TaraSeals
50%
50%
TaraSeals,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/3/2014 | 4:29:11 PM
Re: Solar drones
It just reminds me of the Amazon tentative plan to deliver goods via airborne drone within 30 minutes of order. Now seriously, who wouldn't love the Jetsons-like coolness of that happening in our world? But the devil as ever in is in the space-age details. It took about 2 seconds for someone to post a proof of concept for hacking them.

"SkyJack is a drone engineered to autonomously seek out, hack and wirelessly take over other drones within Wi-Fi distance, creating an army of zombie drones under your control," explained infamous hacker Samy Kamkar.

Errr...so my new Fire TV ends up God knows where? Or in the case of Facebook, my DATA?
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/1/2014 | 8:40:50 AM
1 April
If I didn't know better, I'd say this article was posted one day early.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/31/2014 | 10:10:26 PM
Re: Solar drones
Drones are the new "shiny object" in tech. Picking things up & dropping them off somewhere else seems very cool but not very practical in many places. That's the issue. I think the big guys are just doing it as a status symbol.
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
3/31/2014 | 10:06:50 PM
Networking acquisitions?
I suppose drones are on every zillionaire's must-have list these days, but I would really like to see Facebook explore networking acquisitions related to its Open Compute Project.
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/31/2014 | 8:26:29 PM
Re: surprise
@nasimson:  Personally, I think Facebook as a whole (as opposed to any single indivdual running the show, such as Zuckerburg) knows that it can't last forever as it currently stands and needs to expand so it can transform as needed.  I think it's still staying true to its core as far as connections are concerned, although I'm not terribly comfortable with the idea of Facebook drones.  I picture all-seeing, all-tagging eyes hovering around the world.
TaraSeals
50%
50%
TaraSeals,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/31/2014 | 6:59:11 PM
Re: Solar drones
Totally agreed-- and white spaces, other microwave options could be better! Plus I think drones have too many security issues to be honest. It does have the "cool tech" factor though.
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
3/31/2014 | 6:01:29 PM
Re: Solar drones
Lots of places that don't have fiber to connect cellsites and can't afford it either. We do need alternative solutions, not sure these are it though.
TaraSeals
50%
50%
TaraSeals,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/31/2014 | 5:55:50 PM
Re: Solar drones
Yikes! This is one that I would file under "finding a solution to a problem that doesn't exist."
Kruz
50%
50%
Kruz,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/31/2014 | 4:25:57 PM
Re: surprise
Fb will be owning the complete chain, from providing the Internet to providing services on top of it. This will even allow location based ads for a tailored offering. Facebook will definitely need to provide all the aspects of Internet in its done if not more as users are sophisticated, and will need to use services along fb.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
Between the CEOs
EXCLUSIVE: Cisco's Chambers on Reinvention

3|3|15   |   8:24   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
LRTV Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (1) comment


My visit to this year's Mobile World Congress is going to dominated by three Cs – cloud, cells and coffee.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
FCC Adopts Title II Rules
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.