Puerto Rico is still recovering from the damage dealt by Hurricane Maria, and Alphabet has provided the island a boost through Project Loon.
Project Loon, which uses high-flying balloons to provide internet connectivity, have been deployed over Puerto Rico, and have allowed thousands upon thousands of the island's residents to go online.
Project Loon In Puerto Rico
In October, Google parent Alphabet was granted an emergency license by the Federal Communications Commission to use Project Loon to try to restore cellular services in Puerto Rico.
Less than two weeks later, Alphabet deployed the high-tech balloons of Project Loon to provide the residents of Puerto Rico who own an LTE smartphone with internet access and cellular connectivity.
Three weeks after the deployment of Project Loon, Alphabet's X Lab, which runs Project Loon, tweeted that more than 100,000 people have been able to connect to the internet thanks to the high-flying balloons. The figure is a huge jump from the "tens of thousands" of people that X said were able to access the internet after a week of operation.
AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers have been able to connect to the internet through the balloons, which are up 65,000 feet to create a network that can relay LTE signals to the telecommunications partners on the ground.
Providing an internet connection to more than 100,000 people is not a major success, especially considering that the population of Puerto Rico is at 3.4 million. However, Project Loon has likely made a difference for those 100,000 residents, especially as there was likely no other way to communicate with others in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
The Applications Of Project Loon
In Puerto Rico, Project Loon has provided basic internet communication, which includes text messages, email, and access to other basic online services. Voice calls, however, are not supported.
The purpose of the deployment of Project Loon, which has targeted the hardest-hit areas of Puerto Rico, was to improve the coordination of restoration and relief efforts among the local governments and citizens of the island. Project Loon has also provided the people methods to communicate with loved ones both locally and abroad.
Project Loon was also deployed in Peru earlier this year to provide the same connectivity to people affected by the major floods in the country.
With Project Loon proving its usefulness in Puerto Rico and Peru, Alphabet's X Lab should be commended for technology that really helps people in need. There is a lot of work left to be done to bring Puerto Rico back to its feet, but having Project Loon's balloons up in the sky will certainly help out.