Alphabet LTE Balloons

Alphabet Deploys LTE Balloons In Puerto Rico Under Its Project Loon


Google’s parent company Alphabet has officially deployed its LTE balloons over Puerto Rico. The report confirming the news was made public on Friday afternoon. The company has launched Project Loon to restore the communication and connectivity of the island post the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. The company is working closely with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and other cellular spectrum and aviation authorities to get communication and cellular activity back on track in Puerto Rico.

Under the Loon Project, Alphabet has joined hands with AT&T as the official LTE partner. As part of the tie-up, AT&T would be allowing Loon to use its fleet of stratospheric helium balloons. These balloons will be used to restore functions on LTE-equipped smartphones currently used by Puerto Rican residents. They would be able to send text messages and do minor web browsing. In a statement released by Alphabet, the company representative said that they were grateful to AT&T for such a support. AT&T has helped Project Loon connect various part of Puerto Rico in such short span of time. The Project Loon team also thanked the Pan-American and Puerto Rican governments’ aviation authorities and air traffic controllers. These authorities allowed Project Loon operatives to send small balloons from its launch site in Nevada to Puerto Rico. SES Networks and Liberty Cablevision also played an important role in Project Loon. The two companies provided the necessary resources to set up the essential ground infrastructure. These facilities worked as data processing centers and helped in monitoring the balloons get internet connectivity.

This is not the first time that Loon’s balloons are being used for a reconstructive and relief purpose. The balloons have been deployed in various regions of the world since 2013. Most notably the balloons were used during the massive rains and floods in Peru in May 2016. The balloons were part of a country-wide disaster relief program. Puerto Rico marks the swiftest deployment of Loon’s balloons ever since a disaster took place. The balloons will give more than 3.5 million Puerto Ricans connectivity to the outside world. By the time first Loon Balloon was deployed in early October, 83 percent of the mobile towers in Puerto Rico were down. The situation is expected to improve within a few days since getting the green light by FCC.