Big Tech has big plans to help reconnect Puerto Rico

Gladys Abbott
October 8, 2017

Google parent company Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico.

"FCC issues experimental license to Google to provide emergency cellular service in Puerto Rico through Project Loon balloons", Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, stated on Twitter. The island, home to almost 3.5 million people, remains crippled by the Category 4 storm that struck last month, which disabled more than 90 percent of Puerto Rico's cell towers and left its communications infrastructure in shambles. It also took the step of creating its Hurricane Recovery Task Force that will work on restoring services to the islands.

The Carribean country Puerto Rico has been caught with a deadly hurricane named Maria last day, of 150 miles per hour.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to send a "connectivity team" to help restore communications in ravaged Puerto Rico.

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Mr Musk said he was diverting resources from a semi-truck project to fix Model 3 bottlenecks and "increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas". Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power.

Loon balloons, which carry communications equipment as high as 20 kilometers into the atmosphere, would circumvent those earthbound hurdles - at least temporarily. Loon balloons have already been successfully launched in Peru back in May, providing Internet connectivity in flood zones around Lima, Chimbote, and Piura.

The project works by ground stations connecting to the local internet infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons.

Most of the recovery news has rightly focused on the hard journey to get Puerto Rico's power grid back online.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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