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

  • RushB-del
    11/01/2017 - 09:03 p.m.

    Internet is almost as important as electricity because of the sheer amount of power and influence the internet has in our lives. For example the internet can be used to communicate with other people and spread out important information in record time.

  • OlivierJ-del
    11/01/2017 - 09:21 p.m.

    I feel like this is not a great idea. What if a problem in mechanics or floatation happens. Google will lose the package as well as the balloon. I hope that this technology will be successful.

  • ChloeT-del
    11/01/2017 - 09:59 p.m.

    Google is sending stratospheric balloons to give cell phone services to areas in Puerto Rico. Google is doing this because Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and killed many people. It also caused them to loose power and electronic services. This is very important because people need to communicate easily. The balloon idea is very smart because many people are in need of services and other needs there.

  • AngelinaB-del
    11/01/2017 - 10:25 p.m.

    This article is about how Google's parent Alphabet Inc. are now using balloons to deliver internet to areas in Puerto Rico. These areas have had their cell towers knocked out by Hurricane Maria. These "balloons" can travel above 60,000 feet above land. They navigate by using an "algorithm" which puts them in a good position to deliver signal. These balloons are also solar-powered which means that they only provide signal during the day. Many places in Puerto Rico has half its cellphone towers down, schools closed, and more than 4,000 shelters. Many other companies have agreed to enhance their technology to help restore power.

  • PoojaT-del
    11/01/2017 - 11:01 p.m.

    The internet is almost as important as electricity. We need the internet to survive, just as electricity. They are important because these are two of the many, many things people need everyday to survive. A lot can be done using the internet. The list is endless. This article shows how the internet is almost as important as electricity.

  • GemmaV-del
    11/02/2017 - 07:22 a.m.

    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.

  • ZofiaT-del
    11/02/2017 - 09:30 a.m.

    Google is "launching" an internet ballon to remote parts of Puerto Rico. This is because after Hurricane Maria, the storm knoked out most of the cellphone toweres. Google wants to help by building that contraption to give internet or/and phonelines to those in need.

  • ChaseN-weh1
    11/02/2017 - 10:29 a.m.

    I think it's a good idea. The people need it. The hurricanes took a big toll. Now people can talk and use internet.

  • JaidenV-del
    11/02/2017 - 12:25 p.m.

    The use of balloons will help everyone in puerto rico which will help navigate and detect each disaster and do not want to risk anything taking a big toll

  • EvanC-del
    11/02/2017 - 04:49 p.m.

    The internet is very important because it helps you see what is happening in the world today. Google is sending all this internet to Puerto Rico. So now they can contact each other if they are in trouble or in need of help. I think this a great idea. Thanks google.

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