Google's parent Alphabet says its stratospheric balloons have now helped over 100,000 Puerto Ricans to connect to the internet. The firm is working with AT&T and T-Mobile to successfully deliver basic internet to remote areas of Puerto Rico where cellphone towers were knocked out by Hurricane Maria. Two of the search giant's'Project Loon' balloons are already over the country enabling texts, emails and basic web access. 'Project Loon' balloons are already over the country enabling texts, emails and basic web access to AT&T customers with handsets that use its 4G LTE network. Several more balloons are on their way from Nevada, and Google has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to send up to 30 balloons to serve the hard-hit area.Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth says in a blog post that the technology is still experimental, though it has been tested since last year in Peru following flooding there.
Alphabet Inc's Loon said on Thursday it would deploy its system of balloons to beam high-speed Internet access with Telkom Kenya from next year to cover rural and suburban populations, marking its first commercial deal in Africa. Known as Project Loon, the technology was developed by Alphabet's X, the company's innovation lab. It has since become Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is the parent company of Google. Alphabet Inc's Loon said on Thursday it would deploy its system of balloons to beam high-speed Internet access with Telkom Kenya from next year to cover rural and suburban populations, marking its first commercial deal in Africa The technology was used by U.S. telecom operators to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico after a hurricane last year. Kenya hopes the technology can help achieve full Internet coverage of its population.
The US military is set to create balloons that could float in the stratosphere in exactly the same spot indefinitely. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - which has started testing the balloons - believes they could be used as cheap alternatives to satellites. Applications could include communications with remote areas or disaster zones, as well as surveillance of other nations. The solar-powered craft are able to anchor themselves in place thanks to sensors that can predict changes in the direction of the wind and an on-board motor compensates for the movement. Military aircraft fly at a maximum of 65,000 feet (20,000m) while these balloons operate at up to 90,000 feet (27,000m) and would therefore be virtually impossible to intercept.
Today, Alphabet's balloon-based internet service provider Loon announced plans to bring coverage to parts of the Amazonian rainforest in Peru. The project is a part of a collaboration for Para Todos Peru (IpT), an open source mobile service provider backed by telecommunications giant Telefónica, Facebook, the Inter-American Development Bank, and CAF, a Spanish conglomerate that funds railway and other construction projects. Coverage will be provided to around fifteen percent of the Loreto Region of Peruvian Amazon, representing some 200,000 residents. Alphabet's Loon will launch its first non-emergency internet coverage in Peru in collaboration with Para Todos Peru (IpT) To date Loon's balloons have been used to provide internet access during emergencies, such as when the technology was used in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Loon began limited testing its balloons in Peru in 2014.