Google Will Deploy High Altitude Balloons Over Puerto Rico To Provide Internet


Google Will Deploy High Altitude Balloons Over Puerto Rico To Provide Internet

Google Will Deploy High Altitude Balloons Over Puerto Rico To Provide Internet
Google Will Deploy High Altitude Balloons Over Puerto Rico To Provide Internet – image via

Google’s Project Loon balloons will be hovering over Puerto Rico and parts of the Virgin Islands. These balloons will provide the islands with internet coverage. The plan has been approved by the FCC and is said to be in place until April 4th, 2018. If everything goes according to schedule, these high-altitude balloons will provide emergency LTE cellular reception for the local government, as well as the residents.

This way, people can keep in contact with each other, as well as to reestablish contact with the outside world. This project will also help manage all the relief efforts coming to the affected areas.

Tesla has also got itself involved in Puerto Rico, sending several hundred of its Powerwall batteries, in order to provide people, hospitals, and the local government with provisionary power until the power grid will be repaired. In fact, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has entered into some negotiations with Puerto Rico’s Governor in order for them to be the ones to rebuild the island’s power grid in a solar power-based infrastructure.

Anyway, this will not be the first time Google sent its helium balloons to provide assistance in the wake of a disaster. Project Loon has also tested some disaster relief initiatives in France, Brazil, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. In Peru, for instance, this internet-providing system was also used when the country was hit with extreme flooding and electricity was whipped out.

The advantage in Peru, however, was that the telecom providers in the country partnered with Google beforehand in case of something like that were to happen. The same thing doesn’t apply in Puerto Rico, and Project Loom will start here with nothing put in place. Puerto Rican telecom companies may not be able to formally partner up with Google in this project, and may not be able to provide any resources for this collaboration. Nevertheless, Google is committed to making it happen.

In a statement to Engadget, Google’s Alphabet X lab, home to Project Loon, said the partnership with local telecom networks is critical to success: “To deliver signal to people’s devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner’s network — the balloons can’t do it alone. We’ve been making solid progress on this next step and would like to thank everyone who’s been lending a hand.”

What is Project Loon?

Image Credit: Google/X Company, Project Loon

This project is based on a network oh high-altitude helium balloons that fly at 65,000 feet (20,000 m) and act as receivers from its telecom partners from the ground which it then retransmits to phones or other devices on the ground. In Peru, the network was able to redirect 160GB of data, which was enough for around 30 million WhatsApp messages, or about 2 million emails.

In Puerto Rico, more than 75% of all the cellphone towers were knocked offline and power has yet to reappear on over 90% of the island. These balloons will take the place of these towers, at least temporarily, until the damage can be repaired. Hopefully, it will be a success.