Stratospheric balloons deliver internet to Puerto Rico
23 October 2017
The Project Loon has been working to restore the islands connectivity after Hurricane Maria caused significant damage last month.
Project Loon is a network of stratospheric balloons, provided by Google’s parent company Alphabet, designed to deliver internet connectivity to rural and remote areas. The balloons sail on wind in the stratosphere, extending beyond the reach of telecommunication partner’s networks into areas that are currently unconnected.
In the weeks following Hurricane Maria, Project Loon has been working with the Puerto Rica Government, international aviation authorities plus others to deliver emergency internet service to the worst hit areas. Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now supporting basic communication and internet activities, like sending text messages and accessing information online for some people with LTE enabled phones.
Alistair Westgarth, Head of Project Loon, comments: “this is the first time we have used our new machine learning powered algorithms to keep balloons clustered over Puerto Rico, so we’re still learning how best to do this. As we get more familiar with the constantly shifting winds in this region, we hope to keep the balloons over areas where connectivity is needed for as long as possible.”
“We plan to continue to offer emergency internet connectivity in areas where it’s needed for as long as it is useful and we’re able to do so. Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work, but we hope it helps get people the information and communication they need to get through this unimaginably difficult time.”
Watch this video to see how Project Loon works.