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
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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 FlightRadar24.com. 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the internet almost as important as electricity?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (36)
  • brynnt-hol
    11/03/2017 - 03:27 p.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because we are able to communicate with people around the world. It also lets us see what is happening around us.

  • jessicam-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 03:27 p.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because we are able to talk to people around the world. Also is let's us see what is going on around the world.

  • matthewe-hol
    11/03/2017 - 03:28 p.m.

    internet is just as important as electricity because it helps most of the world work like most world leaders use internet. Also if we didn't have internet we would not be able to communicate with half the world.

  • tylerb-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 03:28 p.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because in today's society it is almost essential like electricity. We use the internet to check the news, weather, to text, and to talk to people. Without it, a lot of the world would be in the dark.

  • ruchip-hol
    11/03/2017 - 03:28 p.m.

    The internet is helping people communicate with each other all around the world. Without the internet the people in Puerto Rico would have to way to contact there relatives because everything is destroyed.

  • katelynh-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 03:29 p.m.

    The internet is almost important then electricity because if you need to get a hold of someone you can and we wouldn't know what going on in the world like if there's a tornado or a bad storm you need to take cover fast.

  • mckinzif-hol
    11/03/2017 - 03:31 p.m.

    The internet is more important than electricity because without social media or internet in general, there wouldn't be a way to see what was happening nor be able to get in contact with anyone about anything.

  • tylerw-hol1
    11/03/2017 - 03:31 p.m.

    The internet is so important because for almost everyone around the world it is a basic necessity of life, it also connects everyone around the world.

  • kylers-hol
    11/03/2017 - 03:32 p.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because most things involving electricity also involves the internet

  • lanieb-hol
    11/03/2017 - 03:32 p.m.

    The internet is almost important as electricity because you can use so much and find so much information also for example when hurricane maria hit they had built 4 cell cites on the internet because of all the towers knocked down or destroyed.

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