Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) To Soon Deploy Cell Baloons In Puerto Rico

Posted October 08, 2017

This move comes just a week after the Project Loon team tweeted that they looking at ways to bring emergency connectivity to Puerto Rico.

But in its application to the FCC, Alphabet included letters and emails from eight wireless carriers in Puerto Rico, in which they consented for Loon to use their frequencies for disaster relief and to restore limited communications.

Google's parent firm Alphabet on Friday received a permit from the US Federal Communications Commission to use balloons to provide hurricane-hit Puerto Rico with emergency cell service. After Hurricane Maria made landfall and devastated the area, the electric grid and wireless communications are still mostly out of service.

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It could also help prove the business case for Loon, one of the experimental "moonshots" debuted as part of Google, and now housed under Alphabet subsidiary X.

Eight-three percent of the island's cellular sites remain out of commission, making communication on and off the island hard, according to the agency. "It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services".

Alphabet Inc has just been given permission to float 30 balloons over U.S. territory Puerto Rico, providing them with much needed mobile reception and internet.

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As Wired points out, Alphabet used the balloons to provide phone service in Peru after flooding ravaged the country, but Puerto Rico might be a little tougher. But if it can get off the ground, Project Loon could be a lifesaver by helping Puerto Rican citizens, officials and rescue workers better communicate.

Project Loon sends balloons intro the stratosphere - twice as high as commercial airliners - where they are self-powered by solar panels.

In 2016, a test site was set up in Puerto Rico to launch what the project called "a handful of test balloons".

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