It’s no coincidence that within a few months of announcing its intentions to pour down Internet from the sky like rain via its Internet-for-all drone, Facebook (News - Alert) hires former FCC chairman Kevin Martin as vice president for mobile and global access policy in Washington.
Martin brings four years of experience as a Federal Communications Chairman, according to Fortune, having started in 2005 under the Bush administration, and stepped down in 2009 to work for a think tank. He also spent two years consulting for Facebook on issues related to wireless spectrum and mobile Internet. As such, Martin brings some much-needed regulatory know-how to the social media behemoth, which has its eyes on the skies, and its mind on making Internet access available for billions of people in underserved or unserved areas.
This ambition is part of the Internet.org strategy, which has already been busy connecting some even million people in seven countries with basic Internet amenities.
“Kevin’s deep experience in technology and communications policy, along with his creativity and strategic vision have already proven invaluable to our mission to connect the world and we are thrilled he is joining the Facebook team full-time,” Joel Kaplan, Vice President of Global Public Policy, said in a statement, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
This summer, Facebook intends to test launch solar-powered Aquila drones that are capable of delivering Internet at costs far below those of traditional communication infrastructure, making it possible to supply areas financially incapable of burdening the expenses such as India and parts of Africa.
This is where Martin’s experience comes into play. The former FCC (News - Alert) chairman has no qualms shaking things up, having suggested during his tenure that cable companies scrap bundles and offer a la carte channel options (We’ve had the good fortune of speaking with him following his participation in a former ITEXPO).
And while residents of underserved areas are likely to embrace affordable Internet access, there will be some rocky terrain to negotiate. India’s net neutrality supporters have already laid into the initiative, claiming that Internet access would only be available for certain content providers, to which Facebook responds that Internet.org will be open for all developers that meet the company’s technical guidelines.
With Kevin Martin at his side, Zuckerberg’s initiative to provide 4 billion people Internet access is now armed with the regulatory wisdom needed to turn vision into reality; Internet may soon indeed fall down from the sky.