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Facebook Working on a Game-Changing New Kind of Internet Service

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With all the push-back and negative press against Internet.org, you'd almost expect Facebook to just ditch it altogether and move on. Zuckerberg and his cronies are nothing if not persistent though, and it looks like they're just going to carry on making advances regardless of how popular the initiative is in its present state.

To be fair to them, most of the problems people have had with Free Basics, or Internet.org at large is that the service it's offered so far has been very limited, and very much on Facebook's terms, but you have to think that if they offered true, full internet access to otherwise disconnected parts of the world, they wouldn't try and regulate what can and cannot be accessed. With that in mind, the focus should really be on getting that technology ready to roll out in earnest.

The good news is, judging from recent reports, that's exactly what they're doing. The Verge found some patent documents that indicated that Facebook is experimenting with millimeter-wave technology, and a follow-up correspondence with them confirmed that they have indeed been playing around with it. They filed a patent in October, but that information has only been public for a few days.

Why the wait? Well, last week, a tech startup called Starry revealed that they were working on basically the exact same thing. It's hard to say who got the idea first, but Facebook likely released the patent to make it clear that they hadn't just stolen Starry's idea. The bigger question, of course, is what is millimeter-wave technology? Well, basically, it's a system which would theoretically allow gigabit speed internet to be broadcast wirelessly, through what's known as a 'mesh network'.

A mesh network is a collection of wireless nodes which basically amalgamate all their signals into a big, well, mesh. None have ever been powerful enough to provide gigabit speed over a wide area, which would allow people to download full HD films in a matter of seconds. Millimeter waves can carry a lot of data, but are stymied by basically any obstacle - wall, standing water, they even struggle with air sometimes. Both Facebook and Starry have claimed that they're primarily developing workarounds for this issue.

Millimeter waves aren't the only thing Facebook are working on to help bolster Internet.org, their gigantic Aquila drones are still being tested, so it's hard to say what the next salvo will actually be, but the fact that they're now in direct competition with another company might spur them to lend more time and energy to this. Radio waves, after all, are far less likely to come crashing to the ground and kill people.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Facebook Working on a Game-Changing New Kind of Internet Service Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, February 11, 2016 Rating: 5

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