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Source: Alphabet

Solar-Powered Balloons Sent To Puerto Rico To Connect Them To Cell Service

By Brian Spaen

Puerto Rico continues to slowly recover from Hurricane Maria's severe hit. Much of the power remains off for the island territory, meaning that cell phone coverage is limited. One innovative company hopes to drastically increase that low coverage with balloons equipped with tower-like connection gear to reach all parts of the devastated island.

According to Wired, over 80 percent of cellular coverage remains out all over Puerto Rico. Some parts of the population in more urban areas have the ability to make calls and send texts, but much of the territory is still struggling to get in contact with friends and family. Just over 25 percent of wired telephone communication is still out and two of the four fiber optic services are struggling to get back up.

X, an innovation lab within Alphabet, is hoping to improve coverage by launching a series of large balloons that would be able to connect citizens back online. Called “Project Loon,” these solar-powered balloons would generate enough energy to provide a mobile network in the sky. They’ll be teaming up with local carriers and it will be temporarily activated from now until April 4th, 2018.