How giant balloons could restore wireless service in Puerto Rico

08 October, 2017, 00:33 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Screenshot  White House  AFP  Getty Images

Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc, started Project Loon, which was created to give internet connectivity to people in rural places and is now being used for disaster relief. Musk is in talks with Ricadro Rossello, the island's governor, about what could be done.

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.

Days after the agency pledged $77 million to fix communications on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, newly-reconfirmed FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced the creation of the Hurricane Recovery Task Force.

It looks like Project Loon will be sending balloons to Puerto Rico to help the hurricane-ravaged island re-establish phone service.

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Mr 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".

"To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone", she said, adding that the company is "making solid progress on this next step". The island, home to almost 3.5 million people, remains crippled by the Category 4 storm that struck last month, which disabled more than 90 percent of Puerto Rico's cell towers and left its communications infrastructure in shambles. Pai said that this includes the "the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services". Less than 25 percent of its cellphone towers are back online, and power has only been restored to about 10 percent of the island, according to a site run by the Puerto Rican government.

In Puerto Rico, Google's innovation lab, X, is starting from scratch.

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