Facebook's Aquila UAS. Photo courtesy of Facebook
Facebook has announced a partnership with Airbus to expand ongoing development of its Aquila drone program, which the Silicon Valley-based company calls its “high altitude platform station (HAPS) broadband connectivity system.” The two companies will be collaborating to “advance spectrum and aviation policy” and to demonstrate the “viability” of the HAPS concept.
According to Facebook, the HAPS system required broadband radio spectrum in the band of frequencies where radio electromagnetic waves propagate to become viable. The company has been working with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to obtain more spectrum for HAPS.
The latest partnership announcement with HAPS notes that Facebook is hopeful that ITU will facilitate the necessary spectrum to support HAPS when they meet in November 2019 at the next World Radiocommunication Conference. Earlier this year, Facebook’s global aviation policy leader, David Hansell, provided an in-depth overview of progress with the Aquila project at the annual Global Connected Aircraft Summit. Hansell said Facebook wants to use the solar powered drones to connect up to 66% of the planet’s remote areas that feature outdated or no internet service at all.