Hurricane Maria caused remarkable damage in Puerto Rico. It has been a few weeks since the natural disaster hit and still much of the island is without power, water, and connectivity. The FCC recently permitted Google to deploy its Project Loon LTE balloons in Puerto Rico and it has now done that. The helium balloons have helped restore connectivity on the island.

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Google’s parent company Alphabet has deployed the balloons which are now providing internet access to remote areas of Puerto Rico. The balloons don’t provide coverage on their own, they’ve to be linked up with a cellular network’s service in order to provide connectivity.

Therefore, AT&T subscribers on the island can now access basic email, text, and web service with their LTE-enabled smartphones. Two Project Loon balloons have been deployed so far and they’re floating some 18,000 meters above the island.

Alphabet has confirmed that it’s going to deploy more balloons in the coming days to further improve the communications network on the hurricane-ravaged island.

This is the first time that the company has used its machine learning-powered algorithms to keep the balloons clustered over Puerto Rico.

“We’re still learning how best to do this,” says Alastair Westgarth, the head of Project Loon. He added as the team gets more familiar with the shifting winds in this region, it’s going to get better at keeping the balloons over areas where connectivity is required for as long as possible.

Filed in Cellphones. Read more about Google and Project Loon. Source: dw

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