Drones: The New Internet Warfare

One is a tech giant and the other, an internet hulk. Google and Facebook have been on an acquisition spree over the last couple of quarters. While taking controlling stakes in evident competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp hints at consolidating market leadership, acquisitions of Boston Dynamics, Titan Aerospace, and Ascenta by either Google or Facebook is part of a revolutionary long-term strategy. These little known companies are manufacturers of solar-powered drones, also dubbed “atmospheric satellites”. It has always been a discernible fact that ‘the ky is the limit’ for both these companies, but this time they are not just aiming for the sky, they are planning to set up shop beyond there. The space-wars have begun.

For those who have come in late, one type of drone is a a pilotless craft flying at high altitude, cruising at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and carrying internet routers with the capability of providing internet access to the remotest of places on Earth. These are mostly powered through rechargeable solar batteries and can last 5 years without maintenance. It is a shot in the arm for the African sub-continent’s dream of providing 100% internet access to every nook and cranny of the country. The current situation poses immense challenges from the dismal situation at ground level.

Power-outages, regulatory restrictions, underserved communities, profitability skepticism about infrastructure investment and development in rural parts of the continent are responsible for the existence of non-connected souls. Undoubtedly, the drone-way is the future for the African internet market.

Researchers, developers, and experts share a common view that air-borne drones’ exploits are not just restricted to providing wireless internet connectivity and communication services. These can provide substantial information to help in combating natural disasters like earthquakes,  floods, tsunamis etc.; to help in rehabilitation, to address the concerns of deforestation and to provide invincible precision to applications such as Google Maps and Google Earth. Another online giant Amazon has gone a step further by exploring avenues to utilize drones as package delivery instrument.

About 90% of the developed world has immaculate access to the internet, and the two tech giants have a monopolistic customer base in these regions. It is the 5 billion souls across Africa and other third world nations that have caught the attention of their megalomaniacal ambitions. Needless to say, the greater the number of people connected to the internet, the bigger the pile of cash they can sit on. So what has prompted these companies to go aerial and invest in a technology that sounds incredibly lucrative but yet to be tested? I am sure these decisions are not inspired by ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’ kind of movies. Instead, it is a well thought out process to avoid the shambolic groundwork by setting up their businesses locally, bypassing government taxes or, in simple words, just not indulging in any real relationship building process.

With the aim to succeed and in the flurry to fly,

Thy shall not turn a blind-eye, not say Good-Bye,

‘Cause Being Human is being real,

And everything else: Just a One Big Lie.