Alphabet Gets Approval for Giant Balloons to Restore Puerto Rico's Wireless Service

Oct 08, 2017, 00:50
Alphabet Gets Approval for Giant Balloons to Restore Puerto Rico's Wireless Service

X division has noted that deploying Project loon over Puerto Rico would definitely be harder than deploying over Peru, which was done back in May after massive flooding caused disruption in internet and communications around that country.

Late yesterday, Google parent Alphabet received permission from the FCC to use balloons to provide Puerto Rico with emergency cellular coverage.

Alphabet Inc has just been given permission to float 30 balloons over United States territory Puerto Rico, providing them with much needed mobile reception and internet. The license extends from October 6th until April 4th, 2018, and it was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet's X lab who works on Project Loon. When it hit, it was almost a category 5 storm, and pummeled the island with gusts and rains for more than 30 hours. She added that "we've been making solid progress" on that next step.

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According to the FCC, 83 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico are out of service, 57 percent for the US Virgin Islands, and 100 percent for St. John. "I'm glad the FCC was able to grant this experimental license with dispatch and I urge wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort's chances of success".

"This is the first time that balloon powered internet has connected tens of thousands of people", Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, wrote on the project's blog.

"This is a temporary fix while we work on laying and splicing miles of fiber, but it will help our customers stay connected with family and friends", he said.

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Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc, said on Friday the company would send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island over two weeks ago, Reuters reported.

-Jack Nicas contributed to this article.

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