Google and Tesla have plans to help rebuild Puerto Rico

08 October, 2017, 00:18 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • A woman shows her support for Puerto Rico during a rally in Hartford on Wednesday

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Friday gave Google's parent company a green light to provide emergency cellular service in Puerto Rico using air balloons.

As communication providers that were impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria continue their recovery effort, the FCC has announced the creation of a Hurricane Recovery Task Force.

Project Loon - the balloon delivered internet project that started life as part of Google and now calls Alphabet's X "innovation lab" home - has moved one step closer to becoming a part of the relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Earlier, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Thousands of phone towers were destroyed in Puerto Rico due to the hurricane, and Google will fly 30 balloons over the island to restore phone communication. "It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services".

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Separately, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said on Twitter that he had a "great initial conversation" with Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to send a "connectivity team" to help restore communications in ravaged Puerto Rico. The organization has already issues an experimental license for Loon balloons to launch over the devastated islands, but the company says that it may take some time. To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone.

Most of the recovery news has rightly focused on the hard journey to get Puerto Rico's power grid back online.

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