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Google got permission to float its internet-beaming balloons over Puerto Rico

08 October 2017
Google got permission to float its internet-beaming balloons over Puerto Rico

It's unclear if Puerto Rico's stressed telecom companies even have the resources to partner with Google on this endeavor.

Puerto Rico is still reeling from the devastation from Hurricane Maria, which has left billions of dollars worth of damage in its wake, flooded the country and destroyed a lot of the buildings.

"Let's talk", said Gov. Ricardo Rossello in a Friday tweet. Puerto Rico's infrastructure was demolished by Hurricane Maria.

Loon is one of Google's original "moonshot efforts created to bring connectivity to remote areas of the world and locales struggling in the aftermath of natural disaster. I'm glad the FCC was able to grant this experimental license with dispatch and I urge wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort's chances of success".

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.

On the heels of Tesla's Elon Musk offer to help solve the island's power problem, Alphabet, Google's parent company, has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission to fly balloons over the island that would help replace the cellphone towers that were blown over by the hurricane. But with its aircraft still in the testing phase, the company said Friday that the engineers it's sent to Puerto Rico are focused on providing support to NetHope's teams.

In a statement given to Engadget, a spokesperson for Alphabet's X lab said the team needs to work with a partner network of a local telecom, like Telefonica, to make it all work.

But the Puerto Rico situation is different. Aid workers are pairing Vanu's devices with other technology, such as inflatable satellite antennas. "People know right away".