Mar 4 - Facebook is in talks to buy drone maker Titan Aerospace- part of founder Mark Zuckerberg's goal of making the internet available and affordable to everyone on the planet, according to media reports. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Facebook may be getting closer to its goal to make the internet accessible to the entire planet. Media reports say its in talks to buy solar powered drone maker Titan Aerospace for $60 million. The so-called "atmospheric satellites"could beam internet signals around the world. Titan CEO Vern Raburn woundn't comment on any deal, but told Reuters Titan has flown a scaled down prototype of the plane. Commercial operations are scheduled for 2015. The concept is similar to Google's Project Loon- aiming at using solar powered air balloons to beam the internet to remote regoins. CNET's Lindsey Turrentine : SOUNDBITE: LINDSEY TURRENTINE , EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, CNET (ENGLISH) SAYING "It may be a little bit of a race. It's sort of an interesting time, right? There are 5 billion people in the world who don't really have reliable internet access. That is plenty of people to reach out to. But one would think that the first internet connectivity a person meets for the first time, they are probably going to stick with for awhile. You know, Google's been working on this for a while, so it will be interesting to see who covers more ground, you know, literally and figuratively, first. " According to TechCrunch, they would build 11,000 solar powered drones that could stay in the air for 5 years, and would provide 3G internet access in regions like Africa. To avoid legal issues, they would stay above FAA regulated airspace. But there could be other red flags: SOUNDBITE: LINDSEY TURRENTINE , EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, CNET (ENGLISH) SAYING "Any time you have what amounts to an essential piece of a daily life owned by a specific company, there are always concerns about the content that is channeled through that, you know, that service. And we have a lot yet to learn. We have a lot to see. We have to see what happens here. But there is a little bit of a concern there, right, if Facebook is the channel for all information coming in from the internet, what is Facebook actually going to do with information outside of the Facebook ecosystem. " Getting the whole world online is a dream of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's. He spoke about it, and the internet.org effort- at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. SOUNDBITE: MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO AND FOUNDER, FACEBOOK (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think if we can do this well as an industry, then within 5 years I certainly hope the number of people that we are connecting is a lot more than the billion that we put, that someone put, in the video that played right before you and I came out here. I mean, I would hope that in the next 10 years we can really make progress at connecting most of the rest of the world." Titan Aerospace is privately held and based in New Mexico.