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 (20)
  • 24lmmint
    11/14/2017 - 10:30 a.m.

    I like how it was dramatic and how they got knocked out by the hurricane. Several more balloons are on their way from Nevada.
    They will serve the hard hit area.They are also solar powered.
    schools are closed and 4,00 are in shelters.

  • 24lkmalo
    11/14/2017 - 10:32 a.m.

    Internet is important because we use it to do things everyday. It is also important to have electricity because it helps you stay warm and helps you see. If there was no electricity you wouldn't be able to see what your doing because everything would be pitch black. Internet is also very important because you can do so many things on it, like blogging. I think this is a very interesting article because it tells you a lot about Google and Alphabet balloons.

  • 24mjstie
    11/14/2017 - 10:33 a.m.

    It is so important because so they can measure wind currants.
    Another is so they can communicate. And to get to the medical to get help when you need it. It is nice that they try to help them. I think it is a great way to do that.

  • 24smdrie
    11/16/2017 - 10:27 a.m.

    Internet is as important as electricity because it gives us the ability to contact the ones we love. The people in Puerto Rico need to have some contact with other people. What if you couldn't talk to the other people you love, must be hard. Also if there was 49 deaths you might want to be able to tell the other people you love that one of the family members has passed away in the hurricane. So these are a few reasons that internet is almost as important as electricity.

  • 24lclabo
    11/16/2017 - 10:27 a.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity because, then they could get in contact with people. Say someone is hurt or dying and the internet is down. How could we get in contact with people to get help? It's nice to know that there is internet. Hopefully they will get the normal internet back. I wonder how long the balloons will be there...

  • Isaacs-smi
    11/28/2017 - 12:39 p.m.

    Internet is almost as important as the electricity because it helps us communicate to others during bad times. An example, your cousin is involved with a bad flooding and is at the shelter, but far away. You feel the need to check and see if he is ok. And because internet can deliver messages fast, you yous your phone to communicate with him, but without internet, you cant do that!

  • jnick-wim
    12/19/2017 - 12:51 p.m.

    It would be nice and all, but what if at night you have to do homework? You wouldn't be able to do it. And what if you didn't have time to do your work during the day?

  • JohnT-dec
    1/18/2018 - 11:15 a.m.

    I think internet really import because if you have an emergenyr you can contact the police.

  • TristanL-dec
    1/22/2018 - 10:38 a.m.

    To contact people like your friends and family

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