How giant balloons could restore wireless service in Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico's infrastructure was demolished by Hurricane Maria.

United States authorities have approved Alphabet Inc's application to use its experimental Project Loon balloons to provide emergency mobile phone service to disaster-stricken Puerto Rico, as Tesla said it would send more battery supplies. "The Hurricane Recovery Task Force will allow us to do just that", Pai also said. Private companies have stepped up to that challenge, like Tesla sending its Powerwall batteries and technicians (an effort that may be upgraded to building out PR's next grid, given the positive Twitter exchange between Governor Ricardo Rossello and Tesla CEO Elon Musk). "Next steps soon to follow".

In two tweets Friday, Matthew Berry, chief of staff of the US Federal Communications Commission, said the FCC had approved the Loon application to provide emergency cellular service to the island.

Mr Musk said he was diverting resources from a semi-truck project to fix Model 3 bottlenecks and "increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas".

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In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to send a "connectivity team" to help restore communications in ravaged Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, Google's innovation lab, X, is starting from scratch. "To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone", the spokesperson explains.

After setting up a network on the island of Vieques, off the main island of Puerto Rico, one team watched from a roof as local residents started getting text alerts from family members who had been trying to get in touch. Loon balloons have already been successfully launched in Peru back in May, providing Internet connectivity in flood zones around Lima, Chimbote, and Piura.