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Google Brings Cellular Service to Puerto Rico Using Balloons
08 October 2017, 12:50 | Nina Perez
Church sends palettes of relief to Puerto Rico
The Loon Balloons Google is planning to deploy feature the key elements of a cell tower, but are re-imagined so they can be fastened to a balloon and survive 12 miles into the stratosphere, according to Google. The FCC said yesterday that 83% of cell sites on the island are down, forcing carriers in the USA territory to employ backup methods in an effort to get their networks running.
Project Loon said the effort in Peru marked the first time that an internet system using balloons had connected tens of thousands of people.
Tesla had previously said, in late September, that it was sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of batteries that can rely on solar panels to store power which provides emergency aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Project Loon is certainly one of the more "out there" projects that being funded by Google's parent company Alphabet.
Loon is one of Google's original "moonshot efforts created to bring connectivity to remote areas of the world and locales struggling in the aftermath of natural disaster". The team claims that more than 160 GB of data was "sent to people over a combined area of 40,000 km".
The helium balloons are expected to deliver emergency LTE cellular reception to allow residents and local governments to contact friends and family, coordinate relief and restoration efforts, and reestablish communication with the outside world.
Loon's networks of balloons appeared to work well earlier this year when parts of Peru suffered severe flooding.
In twotweets 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. "Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network-the balloons can't do it alone". "We've been making solid progress on this next step and would like to thank everyone who's been lending a hand".
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