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 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 and emails. And they are enabling basic web access 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 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 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 in Peru. This was following flooding there.

Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of 3.4 million people. It 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 its cellphone towers are still not functioning. Schools are closed and more than 4,000 are 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, in part due to the help of humanitarian and government groups and Project Loon.

Other technology companies have also pledged help or have sent teams to the island. They are working to improve c

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the internet almost as important as electricity?
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COMMENTS (9)
  • PedroM-del1
    11/01/2017 - 06:55 p.m.

    That's nice and all, but, is it really? No. ho wants to see a giant plastic bag flying over your home. You probably will think, " Oh no! its gonna suffocate us!" Great message Google to people who just lost their homes. Also they should really let it happen t night because I think they'll be pretty annoyed at night.
    DON'T 'CHA THINK?!?!

  • DylanB-mac1
    11/02/2017 - 10:38 a.m.

    Without internet most of the electricity doesn't work because it needs to connect to wifi.

  • kylel-buh
    11/02/2017 - 11:08 a.m.

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

    MY OPINION IS: this is very nice. I'm glad Google is helping Porto Rico in these tough times.

  • GabriellaJ-del
    11/02/2017 - 07:52 p.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because without internet, you would not be able to know important things such as the weather or if there was an attack somewhere. The internet is one way of keeping people in check with everyone around the world and without that, people can be at a small risk.

  • graceh-cel
    11/03/2017 - 11:51 a.m.

    It can provide needs such as ordering food, contacting people invade of emergency, looking up ways to protect ones self, send help in a tough situation etc.

  • veruanikkan-cel
    11/09/2017 - 11:50 a.m.

    The internet is so important because it is one of the main sources of communication for people. We don't write letters anymore like we use to. The internet allows us to connect with people from all over.

  • 24arocch
    11/13/2017 - 11:10 a.m.

    I think the internet it almost as important as electricity, because, when there is a hurricane, people need money. If they need money, they want to take out stock. They can not take out stock, without the internet. But, electricity is more important because, people need to see, and be warm. Overall, I think this is a good article.

  • 24ejflag
    11/13/2017 - 11:12 a.m.

    The internet is almost important as electricity because you need electricity for the internet to work right? i love the internet.THANK YOU FOR INVENTING THE INTERNET!!

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