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gpolit.com December 13, 2017


Large Internet-Beaming Balloons Might Be Headed To Puerto Rico

08 October 2017, 12:30 | Kenneth Drake

Large Internet-Beaming Balloons Might Be Headed To Puerto Rico

Google to Provide Puerto Rico With Cell Service Using Balloons

Most of the recovery news has rightly focused on the hard journey to get Puerto Rico's power grid back online. The tech company began sending battery installers to the island in late September, and announced it would be sending more as only nine percent of residents are reported to have power. Musk is in talks with Ricadro Rossello, the island's governor, about what could be done. In a filing with the FCC, Google wrote that it wanted approval to use the balloons to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico.

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. But with its aircraft still in the testing phase, the company said Friday that the engineers it's sent to Puerto Rico are focused on providing support to NetHope's teams.

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".

Last week, the Project Loon team revealed that it was exploring the possibility of deploying balloons to provide "emergency connectivity" to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Alphabet will attempt to provide service in Puerto Rico after the FCC approved their experimental license for Project Loon, an initiative that launches giant balloons with network hardware in them to provide internet access to users on the ground.

The project works by ground stations connecting to the local internet infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons. Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power. It appears to be a ideal fit for helping Puerto Rico get back online.



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