Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Alphabet's Project Loon to bring emergency internet connectivity to Puerto Rico

Alphabet's Project Loon to bring emergency internet connectivity to Puerto Rico Alphabet's Project Loon to bring emergency internet connectivity to Puerto Rico
Nellie Chapman | 09 October, 2017, 15:38

It could also help prove the business case for Loon, one of the experimental "moonshots" debuted as part of Google, and now housed under Alphabet subsidiary X. The X team brings huge balloons over the required location with internet coverage made available for people n a specific rural area.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has received approval to deploy its Project Loon LTE balloons in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

While it sounds pretty ambitious to use balloons for any form of communication service these days, Google is fairly confident it can successfully do so.

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. It's unclear if Puerto Rico's stressed telecom companies even have the resources to partner with Google on this endeavor. However, other economic forums have established that in other countries it has operated with phones from Apple and Sprint company.

Due to the significant damage caused by Hurricane Maria, cell phone service has been spotty at best in Puerto Rico. In its preliminary testing Google says it can create networks that have speeds comparable to today's 3G networks - an impressive feat considering these balloons are flying twice as high as commercial airplanes.

In two tweets Friday, Matthew Berry, chief of staff of the US Federal Communications Commission, said the FCC had approved the Loon application to provide emergency cellular service to the island. A decision was rendered relatively quickly, and the outcome was positive. The balloons are similar to a weather balloon but they have cellular equipment mounted to them to act as short-term mobile connection points. These high-altitude balloons can provide services to remote regions with relative ease and can remain in operation for quite some time.

"It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services", Pai said in statement.