Our research team came to know that the Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted Alphabet-owned Project Loon which is an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It is with the purpose to help the islands regain connectivity. The license extends from October 6th, 2017 until April 4th. The software engineer and the member of Alphabet’s X, Ben Wojtowicz was granted the license who works on Project Loon.
It is being speculated that the Helium balloons are being expected to deliver emergency LTE cellular reception to allow residents and local governments to contact friends and family, restoration efforts coordinate relief and reestablish communication with the outside world. It is still unclear as to what extent Loon will cover Puerto Rico or parts of the Virgin Islands, or as to how many balloons the team wants to deploy. “The purpose of the [Special Temporary Authority] is to support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” says the license.
It was only last week that the Loon team shared that they are looking into helping Puerto Rico which still stays devastated by Hurricane Maria. Their aim is to help the area regain connectivity. The island that’s is a home to nearly 3.5 million people is crippled by the Category 4 storm. It affected and disabled more than 90 percent of Puerto Rico’s cell towers leaving its communications infrastructure in pieces. A report which was issued yesterday reveals that 83 percent of cell towers on the island are down. The US Virgin Islands facing the same obstacle.
Loon which is one of Google’s original moonshot efforts designed which aims to bring connectivity to remote areas of the world and all the locales who are struggling because of a natural disaster. It seems to be a perfect match for helping Puerto Rico in getting back online. Loon team is showing involvement with the telecommunications provider Telefonica on the island by speeding up the process.
A spokesperson for Alphabet’s X lab said that the team needs to work with a partner network of a local telecom such as Telefonica. He said that “To deliver signal to people’s devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner’s network — the balloons can’t do it alone,” later he added that “To deliver signal to people’s devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner’s network — the balloons can’t do it alone.”
It would be wise to mention that this isn’t the first deployment; the team has since expanded its testing over the years to include initiatives in Brazil, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.