WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) allowed Alphabet Inc. GOOGL to fly giant balloons over Puerto Rico to bring back wireless internet service in the country.
- According to FCC, 83% of the nation’s cell phone towers broke down after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island.
- Dubbed as “Project Loon”, two balloons are already over the island allowing text and email messages, and some basic web access to AT&T subscribers who have handsets that use 4G LTE network.
Thirty internet balloons were approved for Google’s parent company to deploy to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for up to six months, according to Wired.
Alphabet’s internet venture, the Project Loon, uses high-altitude giant balloons to provide internet to areas without any access. These internet balloons can travel about 12 miles above the planet.
Project Loon sets the destination of the balloons using software algorithms. It aimed to replace some of Puerto Rico’s out-of-place cell sites to deliver voice and data services using frequencies of its local carriers.
Project Loon also aided Peru earlier this year by providing emergency internet access after heavy flooding ravaged the South American nation.
Google’s parent company is already involved in legal issues virtually across all continents. It gained its bad reputation on” privacy concerns, anti-competitive concerns, patent infringements, tax theft, etc. Project Loon can help Alphabet restores its good name as soon as it gets to market very soon.
The internet balloons, called HBAL199 and HBAL237, are more than 60,000 feet (18,000 meters) above land, FlightRadar24.com said. Powered by solar energy, they can provide signal during daytime.
Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon said in a blog post that the project is “still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work.”
AT&T spokesman Jeffrey Kobs said the telecom has put up 14 temporary cell sites, and as of Friday, over 60 % of the population was able to connect using their mobile network, with the help of government groups and Project Loon.
Other giant tech companies like Tesla, Facebook, and Cisco have also vowed aid. Tesla has already sent relief efforts to Puerto Rico, via its battery system, Powerwall, to restore power.