Large Internet-Beaming Balloons Might Be Headed To Puerto Rico


"The objective of the [Special Temporary Authority] is to support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria", the license reads.

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.

"Let's talk", said Gov. Ricardo Rossello in a Friday tweet. This new internal task force will work to support the restoration of communications services in areas affected by this season's hurricanes, with an emphasis of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Google parent company Alphabet has proposed launching balloons over the island to bring Wi-Fi service to hard-to-reach places, as it has in other parts of the world.

The US Federal Communications Commission announced its decision on Friday evening, one of a number of ways in which tech companies are helping rebuild services.

"FCC issues experimental license to Google to provide emergency cellular service in Puerto Rico through Project Loon balloons", Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, stated on Twitter.

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Mr Musk said the company would send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island over two weeks ago. To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone.

Much of the ground work is being spearheaded by nonprofit organizations and small firms with expertise in rural or emergency communications.

In Puerto Rico, Google's innovation lab, X, is starting from scratch. Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power.

"They noticed everyone in the plaza pulling their phones out", said CEO Vanu Bose.