FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted Alphabet-owned Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the objective of helping the islands regain connectivity.

The US Federal Communications Commission that it gave Google permission to provide hurricane-hit Puerto Rico with emergency cell service using balloons.

Thanks to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's cellular infrastructure has been badly damaged.

Tesla had previously said, in late September, that it was sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of batteries that can rely on solar panels to store power which provides emergency aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Musk agreed. Hours later, he announced he was delaying the unveiling of Tesla's new semi-truck and diverting resources, in part to "increase battery production for Puerto Rico and other affected areas". The idea is to help areas of the world that have little to no internet service ...

Loon balloons, which carry communications equipment as high as 20 kilometers into the atmosphere, would circumvent those earthbound hurdles - at least temporarily. "I'm glad the FCC was able to grant this experimental license with dispatch and I urge wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort's chances of success". It's unclear to what extent Loon will cover Puerto Rico or parts of the Virgin Islands, or how many balloons the team plans to deploy.

Most of the recovery news has rightly focused on the hard journey to get Puerto Rico's power grid back online.

In a statement given to Engadget, a spokesperson for Alphabet's X lab said the team needs to work with a partner network of a local telecom, like Telefonica, to make it all work.

"They noticed everyone in the plaza pulling their phones out", said CEO Vanu Bose.

  • Anthony Vega