Google parent company Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico. The company will attempt to enable LTE connectivity using its high-flying Project Loonballoons.
The FCC, under special temporary authority, issued an emergency license for Loon to begin operation of up to 30 experimental units.
One of the problems that appears, as it has been established, is that the company has never proven in Puerto Rico if this technology manages to have connectivity with the telecommunications companies in the island.
Its balloons float 20km high in the stratosphere.
Due to the scale of the disaster, Tesla, Google, and Facebook are also involved in projects to help reconnect digital infrastructure in the battered country.
"'Loon' needs to be integrated with a telco partner's network, the balloons cannot do it alone", an Alphabet spokesperson was quoted as saying.
This experimental service by Alphabet has already proven to be successful in an initial run that was carried out in Peru in May after storms wiped out mobile services there, reports Gizmodo. "Using this data, our software algorithms are able to determine which altitude has a wind pattern that gives us the best chance of keeping our balloons close to the areas where we want them", Project Loon said at the time. Tests have shown that the network can transmit between balloons that are over 100 km (62 miles) apart and down to users on the ground at speeds of 10 Mbps. "In total, the balloon managed to spend 14 weeks in Peruvian airspace, which required making almost 20,000 separate altitude adjustments during its flight".