Google's parent company to restore wireless service in Puerto Rico using balloons

Google's parent company to restore wireless service in Puerto Rico using balloons”

"We're grateful for the support of the FCC and the Puerto Rican authorities as we work hard to see if it's possible to use Loon balloons to bring emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need", said Libby Leahy, a spokesman for Alphabet's X division. The project is now under the domain of Alphabet. The balloons cross link to provide the best coverage matrix and when they drift off position or are otherwise disabled, they're capable of descent for recovery by crews on the surface.

Project Loon works by having telecommunication partners beam up service to a balloon, which in turn gets relayed across a network of balloons and then directly to LTE devices on the ground. 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 announcement comes after electric carmaker Tesla said it could help restore electricity to Puerto Rico using solar panels and batteries. Like dirigibles, the Loon aerostats are equipped with ballonets that can be inflated with air, reducing the volume of the lifting gas and allowing climbs and descents.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the application of Alphabet Inc-the company that runs Google-to provide the service in emergency circumstances.

In effort to help with the relief process after Hurricane Maria, Project Loon also obtained consent agreements to use land mobile radio (LMR) radio spectrum in 900 MHz band from existing carriers in Puerto Rico. Even weeks later, only 10 percent of the island has power after thousands of phone towers were destroyed in the storm. "Next steps soon to follow".

At the time, they noted that deploying to Puerto Rico would be harder than their previous emergency deployment to Peru as they did not have existing infrastructure in place.

Hurricane Maria hit the islands last month, destroying access to basic supplies like food and running water. But ahead of the floods, Loon had already been working with Telefonica, the country's largest cell and data provider. The group will be rounded out with representatives from bureaus and offices throughout the agency.

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