In devastated Puerto Rico, faulty cellphone service is a pressing issue. While Tesla is working to revive the territory’s power grid, loved ones are having trouble reaching others abroad. But the country in crisis is getting the help it needs, thanks to Google’s parent company. Alphabet is bringing Internet back to Puerto Rico by balloon.
Project Loon was born in Alphabet’s moonshot X division, with the aim of serving the half of the world’s population that is still without internet access. It has launched several successful pilot projects, but has yet to be deployed commercially on a wide scale.
30 balloons will be hovering over Puerto Rico for up to 6 months. A single balloon can power up to 5,000 square kilometers of coverage. Project Loon, which is currently active in Peru, will be useful in easing communications between groups.
“Some people, even though we’ve documented the fact… that we’ve delivered food and water, it hasn’t gotten to some of them. Now, it could be for a whole host of reasons. One of them could be that they couldn’t hear it; the information didn’t get to them.” [said governor Ricardo Rosselló.]
As compared to the existing setup in Peru, Loon will experience some turbulence in Puerto Rico. It currently lacks a wireless network — but with Alphabet’s previous successes, shouldn’t be too big of an issue.