Google to Provide Emergency Cell Service to Puerto Rico Via Balloons

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When it hit, it was almost a category 5 storm, and pummeled the island with gusts and rains for more than 30 hours.

The Federal Communications Commission has given Project Loon, an experimental balloon-powered internet program, a temporary license to provide cell service in Puerto Rico.

In the case of Puerto Rico, AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile handsets should be able to operate on the frequencies covered by the experimental license, according to people familiar with the matter. Back in June 2013, Google launched Project Loon by sending balloons into the skies above New Zealand. One of the odd projects that has come out of X is Project Loon. The X team brings huge balloons over the required location with internet coverage made available for people n a specific rural area.

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Loon balloons work by "relaying communications between Alphabet's own ground stations connected to the surviving wireless networks, and users' handsets".

It aims to temporarily re-establish Puerto Rico's cellular network - where 83 per cent of cell sites were still out of service Friday, according to FCC figures. Each balloon can serve nearly 2,000 square miles, and according to reports, that should be enough for service all over the island and perhaps portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Earlier this year, Project Loon was deployed to Peru after a series of devastating floods. "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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Separately, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a Twitter posting late on Friday that he had a "great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight".

"We're grateful for the support of the FCC and the Puerto Rican authorities as we work hard to see if it's possible to use Loon balloons to bring emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need".

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