Project Loon to provide emergency LTE Network in Puerto Rico

Project Loon to provide emergency LTE Network in Puerto Rico

Project Loon to provide emergency LTE Network in Puerto Rico

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.

Project Loon, part of Google's original "moonshot" efforts, was created to bring connectivity to remote parts of the world and areas struggling with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

In effort to help with the relief process after Hurricane Maria, Project Loon also obtained consent agreements to use land mobile radio (LMR) radio spectrum in 900 MHz band from existing carriers in Puerto Rico.

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Initially created to drift, the balloons are now equipped with navigation systems, powered by solar panels, which keep them in a specific area.

Freelance journalist Mark Harris spotted that Project Loon was granted permission earlier today by the FCC to provide the coverage to Puerto Rico.

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. The FCC licence will allow X to fly balloons until April 4, 2018, though it remains unclear how much of the territories in question will be covered by the experiment. X is working with local service providers to integrate the balloons and their networks.

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In Puerto Rico's case, the telecom network may be Telefonica, in the U.S. Virgin Islands' case it would be either AT&T, Sprint or Viya - or all three. Devices from Samsung, Apple, LG, and others are capable of supporting LTE from Loon but will require an update OTA that can be undone later when the crisis is over with another OTA update. Yet before it proceeds with its plans in Puerto Rico, Loon needs to find a carrier network to partner with. That's slightly smaller than the 3500-square-mile area of Puerto Rico.

"We're grateful for the support of the FCC and the Puerto Rican authorities as we work hard to see if it's possible to use Loon balloons to bring emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need". The team claims that more than 160 GB of data was "sent to people over a combined area of 40,000 km".

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