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Facebook tests ‘Tether-Tenna’ for broadband

Tether-Tenna demonstrated
Yael Maguire, who heads the Facebook Connectivity Lab, shows off the Tether-Tenna system during Facebook’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif. (Facebook Video)

Facebook is adding tethered helicopters known as “Tether-Tennas” to its toolkit for widening internet access around the globe, even in emergency situations.

The Tether-Tenna concept calls for sending a car-sized helicopter equipped with telecommunications equipment hundreds of feet up in the air, to provide connectivity in areas where wireless capacity has been lost due to a disaster or other emergency.

A tether keeps the copter anchored to the ground and provides the cable links for electricity and data, theoretically allowing the Tether-Tenna to stay on duty for months at a time.

“We call this a type of insta-infrastructure,” Yael Maguire, the head of the Facebook Connectivity Lab, said today during Facebook’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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