Google is using balloons to bring internet to Puerto Rico
Posted by NowThis Future on Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Google wants to use balloons to reconnect Puerto Rico with the outside world.
Google is doing their part to help Puerto Rico reconnect with the outside world while recovery efforts continue on the Caribbean island. How? With balloons. Essentially, Google is using weather balloons that float above flight paths (and wildlife), bringing Internet to people in rural, isolated, and remote areas where Internet access doesn’t exist. It’s called Project Loon, and Google describes it as a “network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide.”
The balloons rely on existing telecommunications infrastructure, like cell phone towers, in order to transmit the signal to the people. That’s why AT&T an important part of this project, according to Engadget. The telecommunications company has reportedly restored cellular service to about 60 percent of the population in Puerto Rico. With those towers in place, balloons can receive the signal from the cell phone towers and spread that signal to a large area on earth.
“Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now supporting basic communication and Internet activities like sending text messages and accessing information online for some people with LTE enabled phones,” Alastair Westgarth, the head of Project Loon, wrote on Medium. “This is the first time we have used our new machine learning powered algorithms to keep balloons clustered over Puerto Rico, so we’re still learning how best to do this.”
You can learn more about Project Loon in the video below.
Project Loon has been deployed under emergency circumstances once before. Earlier this year, Project Loon sent their connectivity balloons to Peru to help the country recover after deadly floods. According to a BBC report, Peruvians sent 160 GB worth of data in just three months using Project Loon, which translates to 30 million instant messages, or two million emails.