Alphabet’s Undertaking Loon has formally deployed its LTE balloons to Puerto Rico, the workforce introduced this afternoon. In a blog penned by Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth, the corporate says it’s working with the Federal Communications Fee, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and different mobile spectrum and aviation authorities to deliver connectivity to elements of the island nonetheless struggling within the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Loon’s official LTE accomplice for the initiative is AT&T, which helps Loon use its fleet of stratospheric helium balloons to deliver capabilities like textual content messaging and minor internet searching entry to Puerto Rico residents who’ve LTE-equipped smartphones.
“We’ve by no means deployed Undertaking Loon connectivity from scratch at such a speedy tempo, and we’re grateful for the help of AT&T and the numerous different companions and organizations which have made this attainable,” Westgarth writes. “Due to the Pan-American and Puerto Rican governments’ aviation authorities and air visitors controllers, who enabled us to ship small groups of balloons from our launch web site in Nevada to Puerto Rico. Thanks additionally to SES Networks and Liberty Cablevision who helped shortly arrange important floor infrastructure in order that the balloons might get web connectivity.”
Loon’s balloons have been utilized in quite a few areas throughout the globe since 2013, together with one different high-profile disaster relief effort in Peru after the nation was struck with large rains and excessive flooding again in Might of final yr. But the hassle in Puerto Rico marks the quickest deployment, and its aimed toward serving to almost three.5 million residents of the island regain connectivity. As of early October, when the FCC first gave Loon the green light to function in Puerto Rico, almost 83 % of cell towers have been nonetheless down.