Google officially flips on its internet-beaming balloons in Puerto Rico

Google Parent Turns on Internet Balloons in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria battered down Puerto Rico and knocked down 90 percent of its cell towers, Alphabet's X unit, AT&T, Apple and the Federal Communications Commission are working to bring more cellular connection to residents on the island through Project Loon.

According to Alphabet, it's teaming up with the Government of Puerto Rico, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other cellular spectrum partners and global aviation authorities to make this possible.

The company already has two of its "Project Loon" balloons floating over the US territory, allowing residents to send texts and emails, as well as providing basic web access for AT&T customers with handsets capable of using the 4G LTE network.

The use of stratospheric balloon technology is one way AT&T is helping those affected by Hurricane Maria. These balloons will be used to restore functions on LTE-equipped smartphones now used by Puerto Rican residents.

Google has now announced that it is collaborating with AT&T to provide emergency internet service to the hardest hit parts of the island through its Project Loon. Thanks to the Pan-American and Puerto Rican governments' aviation authorities and air traffic controllers, who enabled us to send small teams of balloons from our launch site in Nevada to Puerto Rico. In a statement released by Alphabet, the company representative said that they were grateful to AT&T for such a support.

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He also compared this to India that "operates within a framework that protects other nations' sovereignty". Ghani will visit New Delhi for a day on Tuesday before returning to Kabul.

Project Loon is partnering with telecommunications companies and mobile networks to share cellular spectrum.

In a blog post, Loon head Alastair Westgarth thanks several partners, including aviation aviation and companies on the ground who set up "essential ground infrastructure". These facilities worked as data processing centers and helped in monitoring the balloons get internet connectivity. Through an update, iPhone users will be able to use the internet via Project Loon balloons. The balloons have been deployed in various regions of the world since 2013.

In March, Peru was battered by extreme rains and flooding, with the government declaring more than 800 provinces to be in a state of emergency. The balloons were part of a country-wide disaster relief program.

While Project Loon is far from flawless, how well it performs (or doesn't) in Puerto Rico may be a sign of things to come. It sent five planes and almost 40 ships containing network supplies, equipment, vehicles and personnel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it's continuing to send more assets as needed. The situation is expected to improve within a few days since getting the green light by FCC.

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