Facebook has recently launched Connectivity Lab as part of its Internet.org campaign. While Google has its own plans for alternative ways to deliver internet access, like hot air balloons, Facebook's Connectivity Lab is working on options of its own with lasers, planes and satellites.
In the video below, Facebook's Yael Maguire talks about some of the issues the company sees with the current internet delivery system, before mentioning some of its plans for low earth orbital satellite systems. With this system multiple satellites would have to be in place to provide decent coverage, and would be required to communicate with each other. Facebook's plan is to use lasers in order to achieve this.
Connectivity Lab has "some of the pioneers" of "free space optics" on its team, which is "for being able to distribute really, amazingly high-capacity data streams - similar to what you would find over fibre optic networks - through the air," Maguire said. The Lab also consists of various experts from Ascenta, as well as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Research Center.
Satellites and lasers aren't the only option on the table for Connectivity Lab though, it is also looking into providing internet access via solar powered plane's that are able to fly for months at a time. The planes (or drones) would fly at around 20,000 meters, which would theoretically make them more likely to give a better signal than satellite options. In a recent press release, Internet.org announced that it was working closely with a small team from the UK that specializes in the design of high-altitude long-endurance aircraft. This program also brings new life to rumors that Zuckerberg and friends were considering dropping some $60 million on solar-powered drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace.
In a recent statement from Zuckerberg, he said the company is focused on bringing reliable connectivity to the whole world but that it will require "inventing new technology too. That's what our Connectivity Lab focuses on, and there's a lot more exciting work to do here."