Project Loon to provide emergency LTE Network in Puerto Rico

Alicia Cross
October 8, 2017

The FCC said on Friday that 83 per cent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites.

As communication providers that were impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria continue their recovery effort, the FCC has announced the creation of a Hurricane Recovery Task Force. In a filing with the FCC, Google wrote that it wanted approval to use the balloons to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico. "The Hurricane Recovery Task Force will allow us to do just that".

Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello seems open to the idea but there will be a few regulatory and political hurdles to overcome first before Tesla's SolarCity firm can get to work.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Friday gave Google's parent company a green light to provide emergency cellular service in Puerto Rico using air balloons.

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Musk said he was diverting resources from a semi-truck project to fix Model 3 bottlenecks and "increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas".

It could help provide the people of Puerto Rico with access to cellular service to connect with loved ones and access life-saving information. Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power. Back in June 2013, Google launched Project Loon by sending balloons into the skies above New Zealand. It partners with local telecommunications companies to transmit high-speed internet from high-altitude balloons.

Users below attach an antennae to their house, which can communicate with the "mesh network" of balloons above. As most of the smartphones are not capable of transcoding Band 8 LTE signals, the OEMs are necessarily required to push an OTA update for every smartphone in Puerto Rico.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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