Google's Project Loon just received an experimental license from the FCC and could soon be launched in Puerto Rico to provide emergency connectivity. Sadly, the Hurricane Maria had ripped off nearly everything from the country, from cultivation to the networking connections.
"We need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.
Loon, part of a series of futuristic projects out of Alphabet's "X" laboratory, was originally created to provide internet coverage in under-developed rural areas. In a filing with the FCC, Google wrote that it wanted approval to use the balloons to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico.
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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.
Eight-three percent of the island's cellular sites remain out of commission, making communication on and off the island hard, according to the agency.
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 U.S. territory. But if it can get off the ground, Project Loon could be a lifesaver by helping Puerto Rican citizens, officials and rescue workers better communicate.
A similar project using drones was closed down in 2016.