Alphabeth Inc given approval to restore wireless service in Puerto Rico

Alphabeth Inc given approval to restore wireless service in Puerto Rico

In its preliminary testing Google says it can create networks that have speeds comparable to today's 3G networks - an impressive feat considering these balloons are flying twice as high as commercial airplanes.

Per Engadget, the FCC issued an "emergency licence" for X to deploy its technology to Puerto Rico, where the FCC recently estimated 83 per cent of the commonwealth's cell sites remain inoperable weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed into it at strong Category 4 status.

The need for help in restoring power and communication after Hurricane Maria is great: The Puerto Rican energy authority reported Saturday that about 88 percent of the island is still without power.

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.

Alphabet launched Project Loon in 2013 in an effort to provide service to people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps and bring them back online after disasters. The balloons will also help restore service in the US Virgin Islands, which were slammed by the storm as well. Now they would be happy just to reconnect part of it.

"To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone", she said, adding that the company is "making solid progress on this next step".

At the time, they noted that deploying to Puerto Rico would be harder than their previous emergency deployment to Peru as they did not have existing infrastructure in place.

Although the company has been given rapid approval by the FCC to begin operating, it still has hurdles to overcome.

"That's why we need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island", he added, urging wireless carriers to "cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort's chances of success".

The balloons will act as replacements for the island's destroyed cell towers, but they can only transmit the data.

But the reason Loon was up-and-running so quickly in Peru was because X had already been working alongside Telefónica. Each balloon will be 15m wide and 12m tall when inflated.