Google balloons to help restore Puerto Rico's cell networks

Google balloons to help restore Puerto Rico's cell networks

Google balloons to help restore Puerto Rico's cell networks

The FCC said yesterday that 83% of cell sites on the island are down, forcing carriers in the US territory to employ backup methods in an effort to get their networks running.

The Federal Communications Commission has given Project Loon, an experimental balloon-powered internet program, a temporary license to provide cell service in Puerto Rico.

It could help provide the people of Puerto Rico with access to cellular service to connect with loved ones and access life-saving information.

The project, which is run by research firm X, has provided back-up internet services after natural disasters before.

"We need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

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Google balloons to help restore Puerto Rico's cell networks

Freelance journalist Mark Harris spotted that Project Loon was granted permission earlier today by the FCC to provide the coverage to Puerto Rico.

Cisco Systems has sent a tactical team and says it is working with local government, emergency responders and service providers to facilitate restoration and recovery efforts.

Lexington, Massachusetts-based Vanu Inc., which sets up wireless communications networks in rural parts of the United States, Africa and India, is sending dozens of its small, solar-powered cellular base stations to volunteer crews on the ground in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It had partnered with a telecomm company and was testing balloons.

Alphabet has confirmed it plans to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to support the restoration of "limited communications capability" in the USA unincorporated territory. Even weeks later, only 10 percent of the island has power after thousands of phone towers were destroyed in the storm. 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.

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