At the company's annual conference on Wednesday, Jay Parikh, Facebook vice president of infrastructure engineering revealed a number of new research projects from the company's Connectivity Lab. It involves giving internet access not only to urban areas but also the remotest parts of the world.
Being the company's in-house research unit, the Connectivity Lab serves as a modified version of cellular towers and base stations that are usually erected along the freeways. In conventional radio communications, these towers and stations normally use only one antenna where "the amount of radio signal gets split up among everyone."
One cell tower can be congested since many people hog up its radio signal. This can induce you to "want to take your phone and chuck it out of your car," says Parikh.
To reduce the congestion, the new prototype being launched by Facebook will utilize Massive MIMO, a type of advanced wireless technology that makes it possible to cram many antennas into just one radio station to deliver the signals faster.
One of Facebook's projects is the solar-powered Aquila drone that makes the internet accessible to remote areas. This is by far the most impressive in the social media giant's connectivity projects.
Facebook also launched two new connectivity projects on Wednesday at the F8 Developers conference. These are the Terragraph and the ARIES projects. Both these projects use terrestrial antennas, but in different ways. They will take advantage of various wireless techniques to bring internet coverage to both urban and rural areas.
While Terragraph equips light poles and other street structures with antennas to cover cities in WiFi, ARIES combines tons of antennas in just one big array to beam connectivity into far away distances.
In its announcement on Wednesday, Facebook said it plans to test a pilot project for Terragrpah in San Jose, California later this year.