SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook Inc is harnessing satellite, drone and other technology as part of an ambitious and costly effort to beam Internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped parts of the world.
The world's No. 1 social network said on Thursday it has hired aerospace and communications experts from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and its Ames Research Center for the new "Connectivity Lab" project.
"Today, we're sharing some details of the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone," Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook.
He gave few specifics and did not specify a time frame.
The move extends the social networking company's Internet.org effort, aimed at connecting billions of people who do not currently have Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia. Facebook has been working with telecommunications carriers to make Internet access more available and affordable.
"We're going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too," Zuckerberg said in his post.
Facebook envisions a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites delivering Internet access to different regions of the world. Invisible, infrared laser beams could allow Facebook to dramatically boost the speed of the Internet connections provided by the various aircraft, Facebook said on a Web page that explaining the project.