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Project Loon balloons, from Google's Alphabet, to aid Puerto Rico

Project Loon balloons, from Google's Alphabet, to aid Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services.

"Let's talk", said Gov. Ricardo Rossello in a Friday tweet. The tech company began sending battery installers to the island in late September, and announced it would be sending more as only nine percent of residents are reported to have power.

The parent company of Google received the green light on Friday to provide emergency cellular service to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico using balloons.

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.

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". "The Hurricane Recovery Task Force will allow us to do just that".

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As Puerto Rico and its people continue to reel from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, two of the world's biggest tech companies have outlined plans for bringing power back to the Caribbean island and USA territory.

Project Loon works by having telecommunication partners beam up service to a balloon, which in turn gets relayed across a network of balloons and then directly to LTE devices on the ground.

Last week, the Project Loon team revealed that it was exploring the possibility of deploying balloons to provide "emergency connectivity" to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Even weeks later, only 10 percent of the island has power after thousands of phone towers were destroyed in the storm.

In 2016, a test site was set up in Puerto Rico to launch what the project called "a handful of test balloons".


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