Alphabet Gets Approval for Giant Balloons to Restore Puerto Rico's Wireless Service

Alphabet Gets Approval for Giant Balloons to Restore Puerto Rico's Wireless Service

Alphabet's Project Loona team had last day discussed a possibility of providing an emergency coverage for Puerto Rican by deploying its network-enabled balloons over the country.

"More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Saturday.

Project Loon was announced in 2013, and has seen Google engineers develop solar-powered, high-altitude balloons intended to provide internet service in remote regions inaccessible by traditional broadband.

A spokeswoman for Claro, a major wireless and land-line network operator on Puerto Rico, said Google approached the company to ask about a cellular frequency that Claro doesn't use.

It is unclear how long these balloons will remain in operation to provide cell phone services in Puerto Rico, although rebuilding the damaged infrastructure will take a fair amount of time, to say the least.

Elon Musk-owned Tesla Inc., which specialises in making battery-power semi-automatic cars and also renewable energy storage houses, had offered to help the Puerto Rico government.

Loon's deployment to the U.S. 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.

Google is not the only tech giant that is trying to help in the aftermath of the natural disaster. The license extends from October 6th until April 4th, 2018, and it was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet's X lab who works on Project Loon. That is going to prove somewhat difficult since technical crews need to get carrier towers up and running again before attempting any large-scale operation.

The FCC license comes as Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the devastating affects of Hurricane Maria.

"This is a temporary fix while we work on laying and splicing miles of fiber, but it will help our customers stay connected with family and friends", he said.

"All the cities of Puerto Rico, with the exception of Bayamón, Carolina, Guaynabo, San Juan and Toa Baja, have more than 75% of their cellular antennas out of service", the report said.

Vice President Mike Pence visited the island on Friday in a bid to reassure those on the island that it will receive federal assistance.

The island is almost isolated from the rest of the world, with just a few areas where cell sites remained standing. "President Trump and I know this".