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Large Internet-Beaming Balloons Might Be Headed To Puerto Rico

Large Internet-Beaming Balloons Might Be Headed To Puerto Rico”

The donations were shipped to Tampa Friday before being flown to Puerto Rico Monday.

Libby Leahy, a spokeswoman for X, the Alphabet unit that oversees Project Loon, said in a statement that Loon "needs to be integrated with a telco partner's [cellular] network - the balloons can't do it alone".

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

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The Project Loon team is planning to deploy several balloons beneath the sky for an emergency LTE service, which will be using Band 8 LTE. When it hit, it was almost a category 5 storm, and pummeled the island with gusts and rains for more than 30 hours.

"This is the first time that balloon powered internet has connected tens of thousands of people", Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, wrote on the project's blog.

With Puerto Rico still reeling from Hurricane Maria, the tech community continues to find ways to help.

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As Puerto Rico and its people continue to reel from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, two of the world's biggest tech companies have outlined plans for bringing power back to the Caribbean island and USA territory.

The #ProjectLoon team at X is exploring if it's possible to bring emergency connectivity to Puerto Rico. However, Loon had already been testing with Telefonica in Peru, which sped up the process.

Google parent company Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico. According to the FCC, a full 83% of cellular sites remain dark in Puerto Rico. She added that "we've been making solid progress" on that next step.

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-Jack Nicas contributed to this article.



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