Google's Parent Alphabet Deploys Project Loon, Brings Internet Service To Puerto Rico
As promised, Alphabet is deploying Project Loon in Puerto Rico, providing locals who own an LTE phone with internet access and cellular connectivity.
Google's parent company is pushing with this plan so that residents in the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria, will have a way to contact their friends and family and vice versa.
Project Loon To Restore Connectivity
Now that Project Loon is rolling out, the people who are in stricken areas can expect to see services that enable them to send text messages and access the internet for limited browsing.
According to Alphabet, it's teaming up with the Government of Puerto Rico, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other cellular spectrum partners and international aviation authorities to make this possible.
It's also partnering up with AT&T to give Project Loon the capability of providing Puerto Rico with the aforementioned communication services. More than that, SES Networks and Liberty Cablevision also lent a helping hand to establish the necessary infrastructure on the ground to give the balloons internet connectivity.
"We plan to continue to offer emergency internet connectivity in areas where it's needed for as long as it is useful and we're able to do so. Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we're not quite sure how well it will work, but we hope it helps get people the information and communication they need to get through this unimaginably difficult time," Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, says in a blog post.
How Does Project Loon Work?
As a refresher, Project Loon involves balloons that, in a way, act like cellular towers floating in the stratosphere.
That's simplifying things, though, so here's Alphabet's video explanation of the technology:
Project Loon In Puerto Rico
Alphabet says that deploying Project Loon in Puerto Rico is the first time it has used "machine learning powered algorithms" to ensure the balloons are over Puerto Rico. In other words, it hasn't found the optimal way of going at it just yet.
Noteworthy factors here include the wind in the region, which the company has to get a hang of before it can deliver the best service it can in the island.
For the record, Alphabet launched the balloons from its Nevada launch site to Puerto Rico with the help of aviation authorities and air traffic controllers under the Puerto Rican government.