Facebook is working with NASA scientists and aerospace engineers to develop lasers that can beam Internet down to underserved populations, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday.
"Connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too," Zuckerberg wrote. "That's what our Connectivity Lab focuses on, and there's a lot more exciting work to do here."
The announcement confirms what many have long suspected: That Facebook is interested in using drones and possibly satellites to bring broadband to developing countries. But the company is also apparently looking to more traditional hubs of innovation — such as NASA's Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory — for inspiration.
This is a significant move, in part because NASA already has considerable experience with Internet-by-laser technologies. Last year, the space agency successfully tested a 622 Mbps broadband connection over a distance of 239,000 miles — the distance between Earth and a satellite hurtling toward the moon.
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect Facebook's agreements with mobile network operators.