Internet For All


If you live in a first world country, living without internet connectivity is almost unimaginable. Eighth grader Oliver R. said, "I use internet basically in my spare time. I can't imagine living without internet because so much depends on it." 

Many people live without internet in the world, but not many people know how many. Eighth grader Robert Z. said, "I think 50 million people in the world live without internet." Surprisingly, four out of seven billion people live without Internet connectivity in the world, which might become a thing of the past. Google and Facebook are competing against each other for the same goal, to bring internet to the impoverished. 

Aquila, the eagle that carries Zeus's thunderbolts in Greek mythology, is a drone created by Facebook. Aquila is a solar powered drone made from a super light carbon fiber. The drone is as light as a Toyota Prius and has the wingspan of 138 feet, the same size as a Boeing 737.  To keep the drone light, it is not equipped with landing gear. Instead Aquila will take off with balloons filled with helium and will gradually glide down to the surface after its 90 day mission is completed. The first prototype of the Aquila drone was launched July 30. 

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The idea behind Facebook's goal is to have a ground based internet signal sent to a mother aircraft- one that is able to send messages to other Aquila drones in the general vicinity. 

Facebook's challenge is to create that kind of technology capable of transmitting those signals. Engineers at Facebook's Connectivity Lab need to create a laser communication device that can accurately hit a dime up to ten miles away.  According to tests in Facebook's Connectivity Lab the laser can transmit ten gigabytes of data per second, which is more than today's technology. The laser will help the drones communicate with each other and the base station, and help other households receive internet. 

Even though Facebook is progressing quickly with technological breakthroughs, they admit they will not be ready for a couple more years. On the other hand, Google is far ahead with their project called Project Loon Balloon.

People believe that Google will complete their mission first because according to many students and LCJSMS's computer teacher Larry Cohen said, "Google will bring internet to the world first because they know stuff, and they get stuff done." Eighth grader Kavi R. said "Google will probably bring internet to the world in 1-5 years because of their large budget and advanced technology." In reality Google is projected to bring internet to the entire nation of Sri Lanka by March 2016 by using Project Loon Balloon. 

Google's project, like the name suggests, uses weather balloons instead of drones. The balloons will reside at about 20,000 meters (65,616 feet) and will be equipped with solar panels and communication devices to send signals to each other and the ground station. The balloons will use winds in the stratosphere to move to the direction they want to go.

Each balloon will be able to provide LTE internet to an area of about 40 kilometers (24.8548 miles) and will be able to provide internet to desolate areas. If successful, South Asia will be the first country to have total internet access by using Project Loon Balloon. 

LCJSMS Panther Pulse is a column written by students in the Digital Media program at Summit Middle School. 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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