Social media giant Facebook continues to work on new technology, with the internet still a focus.
The company has revealed a concept which uses lasers to deliver high-speed internet. The technology will do away with the need for dedicated wavelength spectra, and the licensing requirements that they come with.
Connectivity Lab comes up with laser internet technique
Researchers at the Facebook Connectivity Lab are responsible for developing the technique, which was described in the Optica journal this Tuesday. Connectivity Lab is part of Facebook’s internet.org program which “is developing ways to make affordable internet access possible in communities around the world. The team is exploring a variety of technologies, including high-altitude long-endurance planes, satellites and lasers.”
The new concept also makes use of drone technology and has been christened free-space optical communication.
“While optical communications have become the de facto standard for high-throughput wired communication channels, microwave and millimeter wave carrier frequencies are still the standard for wireless links. However, the limited availability of spectrum restricts the data rates that can be achieved through these channels,” say the researchers.
Theoretically could be faster than 4G LTE
You can read the technical details in the full report, but in summary Facebook says that “commercially available materials” can be used to achieve data speeds “up to 2.1Gbps at an eye-safe intensity.”
By way of comparison the fastest possible download speed on 4G LTE is 1Gbps. However maximum download speeds provided by most carriers are under 100Mbps, or a tenth of the maximum.
Researchers also address “the need for new materials tailored for communication applications.”
“A large fraction of people don’t connect to the internet because the wireless communications infrastructure is not available where they live, mostly in very rural areas of the world,” said Connectivity Lab’s Tobias Tiecke. “We are developing communication technologies that are optimised for areas where people live far apart from each other.”
If the technology can be brought into the commercial sphere it could be a great help in getting more of the world’s most isolated communities online. In addition to aiding connectivity, it will also be of great benefit to Facebook if they can get even more users for the company’s platforms.