Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Alphabet’s Balloons Will Float Data Into Puerto Rico

October 9, 2017

The island’s battered telecom network is going to be resuscitated from the sky. The Federal Communications Commission has given Alphabet’s X lab permission to launch 30 of its stratospheric Project Loon balloons to heights of 12.5 miles above Puerto Rico. The inflatables will provide voice calls and data to locals who are currently without, since Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed much of the island’s telecoms infrastructure.

Just because it has permission to launch, though, doesn’t mean that Puerto Ricans will be making calls right away. As Wired notes, X will need to work with local telecom firms to get cellular provision up and running, and, on the ground, some handsets may need software updates to make use of the service. Still, if successful, it's thought that the 30 balloons should be able to provide the entire island with a connection—perhaps even with enough spare capacity to connect parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands, too.

You can read more about how Project Loon works in our write-up from when we named it one of our 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2015.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

How scientists traced a mysterious covid case back to six toilets

When wastewater surveillance turns into a hunt for a single infected individual, the ethics get tricky.

It’s time to retire the term “user”

The proliferation of AI means we need a new word.

The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.