The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday approved an experimental license to tech giant Google to provide cellular telephone service in Puerto Rico through its Loon project in response to the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria, the agency head Matthew Berry wrote in a tweet.
BREAKING: FCC issues experimental license to Google to provide emergency cellular service in Puerto Rico through Project Loon balloons.
— Matthew Berry (@matthewberryfcc) October 6, 2017
The license was requested yesterday by the multi-million dollar company.
The document states that the purpose is “to help mobile phone companies restore communication capacity in the areas of Puerto Rico.”
Project Loon, owned by Google, is the launch of stratospheric balloons that carry internet connection to people in rural areas and in remote places.
In the case of Puerto Rico, Google would launch about 30 Loon balloons to help counteract the problem of the lack of connectivity to the internet network and cell phone service caused by Hurricane Maria. According to the FCC , as of yesterday 83% of the cellular service was out of service .
“All the cities of Puerto Rico, with the exception of Bayamón, Carolina, Guaynabo, San Juan and Toa Baja, have more than 75% of their cellular antennas out of service,” the report said.
The Mashable Technology Forum cites an official communication from the company Google that gives more details about the project on the island. It states that ” we are working hard with the Puerto Rican authorities to see if there is a way for us to use Loon balloons to bring some emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need.”
One of the problems that appears, as it has been established, is that the company has never proven in Puerto Rico if this technology manages to have connectivity with the telecommunications companies in the island. However, other economic forums have established that in other countries it has operated with phones from Apple and Sprint company.
“We were able to connect people in Peru quickly because we were already working closely with Telefónica on some tests, in this case, things are a little more complicated because we are starting from scratch,” Google told Mashable, using the impact example which they had during the recent floods reported in that country.
However, these Loon balloons have been launched in Puerto Rico.
As recently as last April there was a test at the José Aponte de la Torre airport in Ceiba to experiment with its effect under different weather conditions.
So far, the government of Ricardo Rosselló Nevares has not expressed itself on this initiative.