Sri Lanka in talks to test Facebook drones over island: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in talks with Facebook to test its solar powered high-flying drones over the island which can provide high speed internet, Telecom Minister Harin Fernando said.

Facebook’s Aquila is a ‘flying wing’ style drone which will soar in the stratosphere between 60,000 to 90,000 feet above the ground. The drones are expected to stay aloft for several months and can be steered.

"New technology coming into Sri Lanka is positive," Fernando said.

Google Loon has already signed up to set up a joint venture company with local operators and the government to operate its floating base stations suspended on balloons and the balloons have already arrived in the island.

Fernando said google unmanned cars are also expected to be tested in Sri Lanka in June.

Sri Lanka has been a testing ground for many advanced communications technologies in the region.  The island’s small size and proactive regulatory stance had been key factors behind it.

In 1989 Sri Lanka was the first country in South Asia to start mobile services when Celltell, a unit of Millicom International Cellular started operating in the country, when telecoms was a state monopoly in other countries in the region.

Sri Lanka was also ahead in deploying, higher speed third generation and then 4G mobile services.

Sri Lanka, a small island 140 miles across had five mobile operators and competition led to falling prices and adoption of technology.
 

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