Project Loon balloons bring LTE service to Puerto Rico with help from Apple

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in General Discussion
Google parent company Alphabet on Friday said it is collaborating with AT&T, Apple and various government agencies to deliver limited wireless internet access to Puerto Rico via the company's Project Loon balloons.




Announced in a blog post by Alistair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, the partnership seeks to reconnect the thousands of Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria in September. Currently, balloons launched in Nevada are floating above the hardest hit parts of the island, temporarily replacing ground infrastructure destroyed by the storm.

Part of Alphabet's X innovation lab, Project Loon equips stratospheric balloons with communications equipment to provide internet connectivity to remote areas of the world. Many balloons can stay aloft for 100 days, though a record-setting test unit floated for 190 days, Westgarth says.

In the weeks following Maria's landfall, Project Loon has worked with the government of Puerto Rico, as well as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency to gain regulatory approval for emergency balloon flights.

AT&T is providing LTE service for basic communication like text messaging and internet access, while companies like SES Networks and Liberty Cablevision helped deploy essential hardware on the ground.

According to Axios, Apple is rolling out a cellular settings update for iOS that will grant iPhones in region Band 8 spectrum access, a currently unused LTE frequency band leveraged by Loon's balloons.

Project Loon's efforts in Puerto Rico mark the second time the balloon technology has been used to assist in disaster relief. In 2016, Loon balloons floated over Peru to deliver basic internet services to thousands of people affected by widespread flooding.
1STnTENDERBITSprairiewalker

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    Good on everyone and every company offering assistance.
    ClarityToSeeRacerhomieXrepressthisprairiewalkerlolliver
  • Reply 2 of 13
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    chiacoolfactorClarityToSee1STnTENDERBITSrepressthislolliverjony0
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,555member
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. 
    Did the original report not mention that, or was it added later?
  • Reply 4 of 13
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,610member
    If you don't have Cell Service or Wifi yet how do you get this update to look at band 8.   Do android phones look for this band already or do they need an update too.
    repressthis
  • Reply 5 of 13
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 762member
    These people are just lazy and want things done for them, unlike our inherited $200 million and set the all time record for golf vacations so far president.
    repressthisrobin huber
  • Reply 6 of 13
    RacerhomieXRacerhomieX Posts: 95unconfirmed, member
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    You do realize Google get a tonne of money from tax payers,right?
  • Reply 7 of 13
    RacerhomieXRacerhomieX Posts: 95unconfirmed, member
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    Yes,most of the things they are doing are still useless. Its been 10 years & they can't still make a proper phone.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,555member
    tyler82 said:
    These people are just lazy and want things done for them, unlike our inherited $200 million and set the all time record for golf vacations so far president.
    It’s probably best he plays as much golf as possible. The more he golfs, the better our chances of making it through his presidency. 
    macxpressrobin huberkingofsomewherehotlollivertzm41jony0
  • Reply 9 of 13
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    You do realize Google get a tonne of money from tax payers,right?
    gatorguy said:
    This is the second time in recent months that Project Loon has assisted in natural disaster relief. Earlier in the year it was Peru with 100,00 of thousands displaced by heavy flooding. Some of the things we thought were odd and useless "moonshots" turn out to have value after-all. 
    Yes,most of the things they are doing are still useless. Its been 10 years & they can't still make a proper phone.
    Can I go out on a limb and say you don't like Google?  You are trying way too hard.  Why don't you just give an attaboy to the companies and people involved in helping out in PR?  There will be plenty of articles coming where you can throw shade.
    gatorguyjony0
  • Reply 10 of 13
    Article provokes some questions. For instance, how does a balloon launched in Nevada get to Puerto Rico? Once there, what keeps it from drifting away? As far as I now, balloons can control their altitude, not direction. 
  • Reply 11 of 13
    normmnormm Posts: 533member
    Article provokes some questions. For instance, how does a balloon launched in Nevada get to Puerto Rico? Once there, what keeps it from drifting away? As far as I now, balloons can control their altitude, not direction. 
    I would assume they tether them to the ground.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    Article provokes some questions. For instance, how does a balloon launched in Nevada get to Puerto Rico? Once there, what keeps it from drifting away? As far as I now, balloons can control their altitude, not direction. 
    You asked, here's the answer. No they aren't tethered to the ground. 
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/16/how-googles-project-loon-balloons-learned-to-loiter/
    1STnTENDERBITS
  • Reply 13 of 13
    If you're interested in tracking the Loon Project balloons, open the free Flightradar24.com, and add a filter for the prefix HBAL
    That removes all active flights except balloons from the screen.
    All the airborne Loon balloons have an HBAL prefix followed by a number.
    Then zoom in on Puerto Rico. Clicking on any HBAL### will show the last couple days of travel.
    In the attached image, I've highlighted HBAL237, 'loitering' over Puerto Rico.
    Airports are shown by the blue Location markers.
    HBAL aloft are shown in yellow.
    Clicking on one turns it red, displaying current flight info in the sidebar and the recent path on the map.


    gatorguy1STnTENDERBITSmattinoztzm41
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