After building a solar-powered plane to help deliver internet access nearly two years ago, Facebook is once again building another aircraft to deploy the internet — this time, in the form of a helicopter.
Unveiled at its F8 developer conference, the Mark Zuckerberg-led social network said the helicopter, known as the “Tether-tenna,” would provide internet access and could be deployed for months in the case of an emergency.
“It’s a small helicopter tethered to a fiber line and power—essentially, insta-infrastructure,” Facebook’s Yael Maguire, wrote in a blog post. “If the fiber line is still good to a certain point, we can make a virtual tower by flying a Tether-tenna a few hundred feet from the ground. When completed, this technology will be able to be deployed immediately and operate for months at a time to bring back connectivity in case of an emergency — ensuring the local community can stay connected while the in-ground connectivity is under repair.”
Facebook did not say whether it would build more helicopters or if it would partner with other companies to do the work.
Tether-tenna is part of Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project, which includes the aforementioned solar plane, known as Aquila, as well as Terragraph, which helps boost internet signals in dense urban areas.