When Google X Labs announced its plan to bring internet access to remote areas using balloons, folks were lining up with the ‘full of hot air’ and ‘pie in the sky’ gags.
Well now those folks look a little silly because Alphabet’s Project Loon has come through in a major way.
The X team behind the project has revealed the balloon-powered internet scheme has delivered connectivity to 100,000 people on Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Last month the company revealed it was teaming with AT&T and T-Mobile to bring LTE coverage to the hardest hit parts of the island and the plan has proved successful.
“In times of crisis, being able to communicate with loved ones, emergency services and critical information is key. We hope that the connectivity Project Loon has provided over the last few weeks has been helpful, and would like to thank AT&T, T-Mobile, and our government partners who made these efforts possible,” Alastair Westgarth of Project Loon, said in a statement (via USA Today).
The Google spin-off now known simply as ‘X’ said the deployment of balloons was its fastest yet.
It was also the first use for the company’s new machine learning algorithms were used to keep the balloons afloat over Puerto Rico.
Back in October the company cautioned that “Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work.”
However, it seems from today’s news, Project Loon could be bringing crucial communications to distracter striken areas for a long time to come.
The rapid deployment was possible thanks to an experimental license provided by the Federal Communications Commission in the US. Today the FCC said 44% of the island is still without connectivity.
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