Google balloons set to bring internet to Puerto Rico

A Google Project Loon internet balloon is seen at the Google I  O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View California

A Google Project Loon internet balloon is seen at the Google I O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View California

The required 900 MHz consent agreements are already in place in the Project Loon license, according to the FCC.

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted Alphabet-owned Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the objective of helping the islands regain connectivity.

Last Thursday, the Project Loon team at Alphabet's X division noted to Mashable that they were "working hard with the Puerto Rican authorities to see if there's a way for us to use Loon balloons to bring some emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need". He explained that Project Loon is aimed to provide the people of Puerto Rico with access to cellular service to connect with family and friends and to access life-saving information. In a report issued yesterday, the FCC revealed that 83 percent of cell towers on the island are still down, with the US Virgin Islands in a similar state.

Just as cellular phones have brought the internet to millions of people in Asia and Africa who will likely never own a conventional desktop or laptop, Google was looking for ideas it could use to provide internet access over even greater distances than those provided by a conventional cell tower. But Puerto Rico is a large island and roads were still impassable and bridges washed out.

"That's why we need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island", he added, urging wireless carriers to "cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort's chances of success".

On October 3, Pai asked the Commission for up to seven months of carrier funding to be provided in a lump sum in order to restore service in Puerto Rico.

Loon, part of a series of futuristic projects out of Alphabet's "X" laboratory, was originally created to provide internet coverage in under-developed rural areas. "Terrestrial communications infrastructure was severely impacted in many communities, leaving people unable to communicate".

When it comes to power, Tesla boss Elon Musk wants to get the lights back on in Puerto Rico using a solar power grid designed by his company - the entrepreneur said on Twitter that projects completed on smaller islands could be scaled up.

"From our millions of kilometres of test flights we've been able to develop sophisticated models that allow us to more accurately predict the wind patterns at different altitudes". The balloons are positioned in wind layers based on NOAA data and float above target areas.

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