Google Brings Cellular Service to Puerto Rico Using Balloons

A Joint Incident Site Communications Capability vehicle is unloaded from an Air Force Reserve Command’s 433rd Airlift Wing C-5M Super Galaxy at Ceiba Puerto Rico Oct. 1 2017. The C-5M flown by Reserve Citizen Airmen from Joint Base San Antoni

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said, "It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services".

In the wake of the deadly storm, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to send a "connectivity team" to help restore communications on the island.

Alphabet Inc has just been given permission to float 30 balloons over U.S. territory Puerto Rico, providing them with much needed mobile reception and internet.

Project Loon, which is led by Google's parent company Alphabet, is a network of balloons that is created to provide connectivity to users on the ground in rural and remote areas worldwide.

The couple said that in the two weeks since Hurricane Maria hit they saw no signs of any efforts by relief agencies.

Project Loon is the name for Alphabet's (Google's parent company) ambitious project that provides cellular data capabilities from above.

The project, however, is not without its challenges.

Most cell towers are still down.

The balloons are sent 20 kilometers above the Earth's surface, where they can remain autonomously for over 100 days.

The giant balloons, which look like jellyfish, are actually solar-powered internet-transmitting balloons, filled with lighter than air gas.

Much of the ground work is being spearheaded by nonprofit organizations and small firms with expertise in rural or emergency communications.

The system has been proven to work. The company deployed balloons to Peru earlier this year after flooding destroyed homes and displaced thousands of people in that country.

In Puerto Rico, however, X is essentially had to start at square one.

But the reason Loon was up-and-running so quickly in Peru was because X had already been working alongside Telefónica.

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