Google turns on internet balloons in Puerto Rico This Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 photo provided by Project Loon shows a stratospheric balloon heading for Puerto Pico after its launch from the project site in Winnemucca, Nev. (Project Loon via AP)
Google turns on internet balloons in Puerto Rico

Google's parent Alphabet Inc. said that its stratospheric balloons are now delivering the internet. They are delivering it to remote areas of Puerto Rico. That's where cellphone towers were knocked out. They were knocked out by Hurricane Maria.

Two of the search giant's "Project Loon" balloons are already over the country. They are enabling texts. They are enabling emails. And they are enabling basic web access. This is to AT&T customers with handsets that use its 4G LTE network.

The balloons are called HBAL199 and HBAL237. They are more than 60,000 feet above land. That's according to They navigate using an algorithm. The algorithm puts them in the best position to deliver signal. It is delivered by rising and falling to ride wind currents. They are also solar-powered. They only provide signal during the day.

Several more balloons are on their way. They are coming from Nevada. Alphabet has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to send up to 30 balloons. They will serve the hard-hit area. That's according to Libby Leahy. She is spokeswoman for Alphabet's X. That is Alphabet's division for futuristic technologies.

Project Loon is led by Alastair Westgarth. He said in a blog post that Project Loon is "still an experimental technology and we're not quite sure how well it will work." But it has been tested since last year. It was tested in Peru. This was following flooding there.

Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory. It is home to 3.4 million people. The hurricane made landfall last month. Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the death toll had risen to 49. Less than a fifth of the island has electricity. Half of Puerto Rico's cellphone towers are still not functioning. Schools are closed. There are more than 4,000 in shelters. This is according to a government website.

AT&T spokesman Jeffrey Kobs said the company has set up 14 temporary cell sites. More than 60 percent of the population was connected via mobile network. This is in part due to the help of humanitarian and government groups and Project Loon.

Other technology companies have also pledged help. Some have sent teams to the island. They are working to improve communications. And they are working to restore power. The companies include Cisco. They include Facebook. And they include Tesla.

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Why is the internet almost as important as electricity?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • bradenb-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 10:05 a.m.

    Internet is almost as important as electricity, because they need to communicate with other outside of the island and they might need to get food or shelter by communicating through e mail or text to get help.

  • marissar-hol
    11/03/2017 - 10:32 a.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because we can communicate through the internet. The electricity would not work after the hurricane but after they set up cell sites then more than 60 percent was connected.

  • jamesb-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 10:57 a.m.

    I think the internet is just important as electricity because, that way you can interact with your family that lives far away. Also, you can know what's going on in the world.

  • alexv-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 11:30 a.m.

    so that if there's a special notification you can answer it if like the doctor wants you to check his email you can

  • liamr-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 11:30 a.m.

    So that people can communicate to their families to see if they are alright after the hurricane.

  • alexb-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    The internet is a way that most people find important information and the internet is what most of technology today runs around.

  • donovanc-hol
    11/03/2017 - 11:32 a.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because that is how people communicate these days.

  • adairab-hol
    11/03/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because it will allow communication to become much easier, speeding along the recovery process for Puerto Rico's people and cities.

  • jimmyrc-hol
    11/03/2017 - 11:44 a.m.

    The internet is just as important as electricity because with today's society, everything is now relying on a internet connection. So if take out all of the internet/phone towers then it would put us back to basic technology.

  • gabbyg-hol
    11/03/2017 - 11:58 a.m.

    I would say that internet is almost as important as electricity because you can use the internet to communicate with people, even if you don't have cell service, and you can get lots of valuable information that could be helpful to these people during this time.

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