While Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left Puerto Rico almost entirely without cell coverage, help may be on the way in the form of 30 balloons.
Alphabet, the parenting company of Google, has just been granted permission by the Federal Communications Commission to launch balloons from their Loon Project over the Caribbean island.
With 90% of Puerto Rico without cell coverage, the Loon project balloons would act as replacements for the cell towers that were knocked over by the storm. Each balloon would hover about 12 miles off the ground and provide voice and data coverage for roughly 2,000 square miles (5,000 square kilometers). The coverage would be provided through local carriers.
Alphabet has already received consent from the island’s local cell providers to utilize the balloons in their network. Though a timeline for their launch has not been issued, however, Alphabet representatives say that they are working quickly to iron out the right logistics for the Loon debut.
The Loon project has already been hailed successful for bringing cell coverage to Peru during the country’s flooding last spring.
In addition to the Loon Project’s assistance and dozens of celebrities donating to hurricane relief, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is reportedly in talks with Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló about rebuilding the island’s entire electrical grid from scratch – only this time, it will be entirely sustainable.
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