Giant floating balloons could help deliver internet and cell service to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Days after the agency pledged $77 million to fix communications on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, newly-reconfirmed FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced the creation of the Hurricane Recovery Task Force. The tech company began sending battery installers to the island in late September, and announced it would be sending more as only nine percent of residents are reported to have power.
The FCC's daily status report also shows significant wireline, TV and radio outages remain in both US territories. Google parent company Alphabet has proposed launching balloons over the island to bring Wi-Fi service to hard-to-reach places, as it has in other parts of the world.
The Loon Balloons Google is planning to deploy feature the key elements of a cell tower, but are re-imagined so they can be fastened to a balloon and survive 12 miles into the stratosphere, according to Google.
The project works by ground stations connecting to the local internet infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons. The Loon team has reportedly secured spectrum rights from wireless networks operating in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands good for at least six months.
Almost 95% of the island's residents are still living in the dark after Maria wiped out the island's power network.
In 2016, a test site was set up in Puerto Rico to launch what the project called "a handful of test balloons".