Alphabet’s Project Loon to deliver internet to Puerto Rico
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Alphabet’s Project Loon to deliver internet to Puerto Rico

The Federal Communications Commission has granted Alphabet’s Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help the islands regain connectivity following recent natural disasters. The license is already in operation, and will expire on 4 April 2018. It will allow Loon’s helium balloons to deliver “emergency LTE cellular reception” to the areas, letting users reconnect with family friends and the government following recent devastation. As of now, it is not clear how many balloons will be deployed, or how area they will cover.

Alphabet’s share price has risen by 25% year to date

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SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

The license states that “the purpose of the [Special Temporary Authority] is to support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”

Puerto Rico, which is home to nearly 3.5 million people, was devastated by Category 4 storm, Hurricane Maria in recent weeks. More than 90% of the islands cell towers were disabled, and its communications infrastructure has been decimated. A report from the FCC last week shows that recovery has been slow: 83% of towers are still down.

Project Loon will not work alone. The company is currently looking for a local partner. A spokesperson for Alphabet’s X lab gave a statement last week: “To deliver signal to people’s devices, Loon needs to be integrated with a telco partner’s network – the balloons can’t do it alone. We’ve been making solid progress on this next step and would like to thank everyone who’s been lending a hand.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alphabet in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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