Google balloons to help restore Puerto Rico's cell networks

Trump is right on eliminating Puerto Rico's debt

As Puerto Ricans try and rebuild their lives, that sort of data service could be vital - According to the latest figures, 83 percent of cell sites are still out of action on the island.

The US Federal Communications Commission that it gave Google permission to provide hurricane-hit Puerto Rico with emergency cell service using balloons.

It could help provide the people of Puerto Rico with access to cellular service to connect with loved ones and access life-saving information. They were among several tech companies proposing disaster response ideas, most aimed at getting phone and internet service up and running.

Musk agreed. Hours later, he announced he was delaying the unveiling of Tesla's new semi-truck and diverting resources, in part to "increase battery production for Puerto Rico and other affected areas".

That's where Project Loon comes in.




The FCC's daily status report also shows significant wireline, TV and radio outages remain in both US territories.

Earlier, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

"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.

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.

But the Puerto Rico situation is different. Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network-the balloons can't do it alone. Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power.

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