Google's Loon Balloons Attempt to Restore Cell Service to Puerto Rico

Google's Loon Balloons Attempt to Restore Cell Service to Puerto Rico

Google's Loon Balloons Attempt to Restore Cell Service to Puerto Rico

The FCC has granted Alphabet's Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the goal of helping the islands regain Internet connectivity.

That's because Alphabet was given a temporary license (October 6 to April 4, 2018) by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate Project Loon in the USA territories. (NASDAQ:GOOG), the parent company of Google, has been granted an experimental licence to deploy a network of giant balloons to restore cellular connectivity in hurricane-battered Puerto Rico.

The licence [PDF] allows Project Loon to deploy its network of balloons using spectrum in the 900MHz band, having obtained consent from the existing carriers in the United States territory.

More than 80% of cellular sites remain out of service in Puerto Rico, according to the FCC. Just as Chairman Ajit Pai of FCC said, innovative plans are needed to restore connectivity to the island.

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"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", said Libby Leahy, a spokesperson for Alphabet X.

One of the most novel attempts to provide a helping hand is coming from X, a sister company of Google, who want to launch a series of balloons to restore communications to the island as part of Project Loon.

In late September, Tesla said it was sending hundreds of batteries that can store power generated by solar panels to Puerto Rico to provide emergency help in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Project Loon's network of high-altitude balloons is meant to beam signals down from more than 12 miles above the earth as a way of connecting remote and rural residents.

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The document states that the objective is "to help mobile phone companies restore communication capacity in the areas of Puerto Rico".

Google's Project Loon balloons being inflated.

Help is coming to Puerto Rico in the form of balloons. Google calls it "Project Loon" and has been running global trials in areas with challenging geographies and limited fiber networks.

Loon's networks of balloons appeared to work well earlier this year when parts of Peru suffered severe flooding.

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Loon's deployment to the US territories won't be the project's first rodeo; it has been tested over the years in multiple countries, including Brazil, New Zealand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and France, among others.

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