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

According to Wired, Project Loon-which is described as "a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, created to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide"-would allow Puerto Rico residents to get voice and data service".

Tesla is also dedicating its services to hurricane relief efforts: yesterday, Elon Musk said that he could rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid in the long-term using solar energy.

It looks like Project Loon will be sending balloons to Puerto Rico to help the hurricane-ravaged island re-establish phone service.


Musk agreed. Hours later, he announced he was delaying the unveiling of Tesla's new semi-truck and diverting resources, in part to "increase battery production for Puerto Rico and other affected areas". Puerto Rico's infrastructure was demolished by Hurricane Maria.

The Federal Communications Commission said Saturday that 82 percent of cell sites remain out in Puerto Rico; 58 percent are out of service in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.


Loon balloons work by "relaying communications between Alphabet's own ground stations connected to the surviving wireless networks, and users' handsets".

"The objective 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. In Puerto Rico, things are still in the planning stages. Less than 25 percent of its cellphone towers are back online, and power has only been restored to about 10 percent of the island, according to a site run by the Puerto Rican government.



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