Alphabet’s Project Loon has officially deployed its LTE balloons to Puerto RICO, the team declared this afternoon. during a blog penned by Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth, the company says it’s working with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and other cellular spectrum and aviation authorities to bring connectivity to components of the island still suffering within the aftermath of hurricane Maria. Loon’s official LTE partner for the initiative is AT&T, that helps Loon use its fleet of stratospheric helium balloons to bring functions like text messaging and minor net browsing access to Puerto RICO residents who have LTE-equipped smartphones.
“We’ve ne’er deployed Project Loon connectivity from scratch at such a rapid pace, and we’re grateful for the support of AT&T and also the several other partners and organizations that have created this possible,” Westgarth writes. “Thanks to the Pan-American and Puerto Rican governments’ aviation authorities and air traffic controllers, who enabled us to send tiny teams of balloons from our launch site in Nevada to Puerto rico. Thanks also to SES Networks and Liberty Cablevision who helped quickly set up essential ground infrastructure so that the balloons could get net connectivity.”
Loon’s balloons are used in a number of regions across the world since 2013, including one other high-profile disaster relief effort in Peru after the country was struck with huge rains and extreme flooding back in might of last year. yet the effort in Puerto rico marks the fastest deployment, and its aimed at serving to nearly 3.5 million residents of the island regain connectivity. As of early Oct, when the FCC 1st gave Loon the green light to operate in Puerto rico, nearly 83 % of cell towers were still down.