Google To Provide Hurricane Battered Puerto Rico Phone Service By Balloon

Cell service is out in 83 percent of Puerto Rico. Could these Google balloons fix it?

Cell service is out in 83 percent of Puerto Rico. Could these Google balloons fix it?

"The purpose of the [Special Temporary Authority] is to support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria", the license reads.

The Loon Balloons Google is planning to deploy feature the key elements of a cell tower, but are re-imagined so they can be fastened to a balloon and survive 12 miles into the stratosphere, according to Google. "That's why we need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island". Without cell phones and Internet connection, reaching loved ones is very difficult.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, might provide the solution for the communication problems in Puerto Rico.

Alphabet has developed a program named Project Loon that began in 2013 and uses solar-powered balloons to provide internet access to remote areas of the world.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given experimental approval to Alphabet's Project Loon, enabling it to attempt to provide cellular service to Puerto Rico's citizens through specially designed balloons.

Vice President Mike Pence visited the island on Friday in a bid to reassure those on the island that it will receive federal assistance. Other industry leaders like Tesla have offered their help to rebuild the power grid of the country, which was also devastated by the heavy storms last month. "PR could be that flagship project".

The technology was put to use in May in Peru to provide internet service, after extreme rains led to catastrophic flooding, according to Google. "In total, the balloon managed to spend 14 weeks in Peruvian airspace, which required making nearly 20,000 separate altitude adjustments during its flight".

Mr. Pai urged wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon "to maximize this effort's chances of success".

The team behind Project Loon uses air balloons as vehicles of change that, equipped with specialized relaying instruments, capture cellular signals transmitted by ground stations and beam them down from above. That is going to prove somewhat difficult since technical crews need to get carrier towers up and running again before attempting any large-scale operation.

The company had previously conducted connectivity tests in Australia, New Zealand and several South American countries.

President Donald Trump has been criticized for his reaction to the hurricane, with critics saying the government has not done enough to help their fellow Americans in the Caribbean.

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