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 by Hurricane Maria.

Two of the search giant's "Project Loon" balloons are already over the country. They are enabling texts, emails and 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, according to FlightRadar24.com. They navigate using an algorithm that 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 to serve the hard-hit area, according to Libby Leahy. She is spokeswoman for Alphabet's X - Alphabet's division for futuristic technologies.

Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post that Project Loon is "still an experimental technology and we're not quite sure how well it will work," though it has been tested since last year in Peru following flooding there.

Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of 3.4 million people since making 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, and 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 such as Cisco, Facebook and Tesla have also pledged help or have sent teams to the island to improve communications and restore power.

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COMMENTS (77)
  • MarianaG-del
    11/01/2017 - 05:56 p.m.

    This allows many people to communicate with others. Then all the people in Puerto Rico can tell there family that there are safe. It also allow kids to have entertainment and be happy.

  • ReesePratt-del
    11/01/2017 - 05:57 p.m.

    Yes Puerto rico has internet.

  • JaredI-del
    11/01/2017 - 05:58 p.m.

    you can do alot of things on the internet

  • AkshayB-del
    11/01/2017 - 06:13 p.m.

    The story was about Google spreading its internet to help people lives in Puerto Rico from the hurricane Maria. 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 by Hurricane Maria. These satellites are solar powered so it gives power everyday to people. AT&T has set up 14 temporary cell sites, and 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.

  • IsabellaM-del
    11/01/2017 - 06:29 p.m.

    The main idea is that balloons are delivering internet to remote places in Puerto Rico. This story was not interesting.

  • JohnB-del1
    11/01/2017 - 06:34 p.m.

    "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 by Hurricane Maria" this passage talks about google sending stratospheric balloons with a hotspot on it to puerto rico because hurricane maria knocking many of them down.

  • JohnB-del1
    11/01/2017 - 06:36 p.m.

    it is talking about helping people in Puerto Rico by putting up stratospheric balloons that give out wifi.

  • SarahT-del
    11/01/2017 - 06:36 p.m.

    Since the current hurricane had destroyed Puerto Rico, its very likely that most parts dont have internet. Google sent internet balloons to support that.From Nevada there's supposed to be up to be 30 balloons traveling to the island.

  • AnnabelleA-del
    11/01/2017 - 06:40 p.m.

    The article was great! Thought it mentioned how devastated people were, i thought it was very informational. I enjoy technology very much and appreciate the advancement in tech over the years and how it can help people in the long run. It really shows us that we should pay attention during class.

  • PriscillaD-del
    11/01/2017 - 06:47 p.m.

    This article is Google sending internet balloons to Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria really effected the people in Puerto Rico. They lost a lot of things, internet being one of the things; so Google has decided to send balloons over to Puerto Rico and give the people some internet. This has lead to other technology companies such as Cisco, Facebook and Tesla to also pledge help or send teams to the island to improve communications and restore power.

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