Google
Representative image.Reuters

Search engine giant Google, in co-ordination with the team of Google Access, has long been working on Project Loon to bring free internet access to rural and secluded areas in the world. For this, the brand is known to set high-altitude balloons, which sail to the stratosphere, to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds.

Now, a report has emerged that the very same Google Access team has embarked on a secret upgrade program tentatively titled Project SkyBender.

Google is conducting tests on solar-powered drone to beam internet with 5G speed at Spaceport America located in the middle of New Mexico's arid desert land, reported The Guardian.

The search engine giant has reportedly signed an agreement with Spaceport America to get exclusive access to the runway, and also the rights to venture into the skies above the White Sands Missile range if the need arises for drone team for additional airspace for testing.

As per the documents obtained through public record laws, Google under the program Project SkyBender is testing millimeter-wave radio transmission technology, which is said to be the propeller of next generation 5G network, to transfer huge loads of data via drone.

It is learnt that solar-powered SkyBender drone is being tested with "optionally piloted" aircraft Centaur which features a wing-span of 50 meters.

It is developed by Google Titan division, which was actually formed when the company acquired the New Mexico based Titan Aerospace a couple of years ago.

The US government owned telecommunication agency FCC (Federal Communication Commission) has granted permission to Google's Project SkyBender testing until July this year.

If successful, Google will be able to beam numerous gigabits of data per second, 40 times than the current 4G speed (150/50 mbps download/upload).

Also read: Google to team up with Ford to build self-driving cars

Besides Google, another American tech giant Facebook too is working on a similar project. Facebook's newly established division Connectivity Lab is testing unmanned solar-powered aircraft Aquila. This is capable of flying above 60,000 feet and stay airborne for months with no maintenance, beaming high speed wireless internet connection.

After doing rigorous tests, the R&D engineers were able be zero in on the type of technology that can be used for transfer data with minimum power. They have devised a technique to use invisible infrared laser beams and flicker it on and off billions of times per second to send data at fiber-optic speeds using very little power.

Both Google and Facebook projects are still undergoing tests and are likely to take more time to become a reality.

Watch this space for more updates.

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