Google Brings Cellular Service to Puerto Rico Using Balloons

A woman shows her support for Puerto Rico during a rally in Hartford on Wednesday

Rebuilding conventional cell towers will be "a long road", T-Mobile told CNN, thanks to challenges including not just the cost of construction, but, according to some wireless companies, theft and crime against their operations. Sadly, the Hurricane Maria had ripped off nearly everything from the country, from cultivation to the networking connections.

Project Loon is certainly one of the more "out there" projects that being funded by Google's parent company Alphabet.

More than 80% of Puerto Rico's cellular towers are still out of service more than two weeks after the arrival there of Hurricane Maria, and almost one-third of the island's counties have no service, according to the FCC.

Alphabet launched Project Loon in 2013 in an effort to provide service to people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps and bring them back online after disasters.




Puerto Rico is still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island on September 20 and paralyzing winds, rain and storm surge. 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.

And according to Wired, those balloons could begin providing emergency service any day now. The team claims that more than 160 GB of data was "sent to people over a combined area of 40,000 km". However, it's possible some would need a software update, which might have to be delivered over the air in Puerto Rico.

The FCC's Mr. Pai has taken several other steps to address hurricane-related damage, including providing up to some $77 million in federal Universal Service Fund money to restore services in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the case of Peru, the team had already been working with the country's local carrier Telefonica, so integrating its network into the Loon balloons was prompt and relatively uncomplicated.

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