Google's parent company to restore wireless service in Puerto Rico using balloons

Master Sgt. Michael Lopez 68th Airlift Squadron loadmaster directs a vehicle off of a C-5M Super Galaxy flown by Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 433rd Airlift Wing from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Texas after landing at Ceiba Puerto Ri

Master Sgt. Michael Lopez 68th Airlift Squadron loadmaster directs a vehicle off of a C-5M Super Galaxy flown by Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 433rd Airlift Wing from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Texas after landing at Ceiba Puerto Ri

Days after the agency pledged $77 million to fix communications on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, newly-reconfirmed FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced the creation of the Hurricane Recovery Task Force.

It could also help prove the business case for Loon, one of the experimental "moonshots" debuted as part of Google, and now housed under Alphabet subsidiary X.

Weeks ago Tesla sent hundreds of batteries that store power made by solar panels to the islands, and they are currently making more for Puerto Rico.

Google is stepping into the crisis in Puerto Rico to help out with some cutting edge technology that will provide emergency phone reception. Loon requires local partners to work, and in the case of the Peru project, relationships with wireless providers and other players were already in place.

"That's why we need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island".

Late yesterday, Google parent Alphabet received permission from the FCC to use balloons to provide Puerto Rico with emergency cellular coverage. The company is hopeful that the balloons will be able to restore telecommunications service to the hurricane-ravaged island. Pai said that this includes the "the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services".

Responding to a tweet asking if Tesla could help, chief executive Elon Musk answered: "The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too".

As Harris spotted, earlier today the FCC granted a "Special Temporary Authorization" to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico". "Next steps soon to follow".

Vice President Mike Pence visited the island on Friday in a bid to reassure those on the island that it will receive federal assistance.

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

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. Eight carriers in the region have temporarily handed over frequencies for six months, with X planning to use 30 Loon balloons when the service goes live.

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