A new report from Germany’s NetzPolitik says Facebook is working with Aeronautics giant Airbus, to test drones in Australia. This is an attempt to revive the social media giant’s ambitious programme to beam Internet across the globe using drones which was abandoned last year. NetzPolitik obtained a document, requested under Australia’s Freedom of Information Act, that showed that the two companies spent last year planning on how to collaborate and schedule test flights in November and December 2018. According to the report, Facebook wants to use the drones that operate at an altitude of 20 kilometres from the Earth’s surface to bring connectivity to some 3.8 billion people who do not yet have access to the Internet.
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).