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

According to the FCC, 83 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico are out of service, 57 percent for the US Virgin Islands, and 100 percent for St. John.

Though the Loon technology is not entirely proven, it could help speed the restoration of vital communications as the USA territory works to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Alphabet will attempt to provide service in Puerto Rico after the FCC approved their experimental license for Project Loon, an initiative that launches giant balloons with network hardware in them to provide internet access to users on the ground. "It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services".

The approval is part of the FCC's larger promise to form a hurricane recovery task force that's primarily focused on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello seems open to the idea but there will be a few regulatory and political hurdles to overcome first before Tesla's SolarCity firm can get to work.

Tesla is also dedicating its services to hurricane relief efforts: yesterday, Elon Musk said that he could rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid in the long-term using solar energy.

"To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone", she said, adding that the company is "making solid progress on this next step". Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power.

Most of the recovery news has rightly focused on the hard journey to get Puerto Rico's power grid back online. It's unclear if Puerto Rico's stressed telecom companies even have the resources to partner with Google on this endeavor.


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