Google gets green light to provide cell service in Puerto Rico using balloons

The parent company of Google received the green light on Friday to provide emergency cellular service to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico using balloons.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it had granted Alphabet Inc. permission to use solar powered balloons to bring cellular service to the island, which has been left largely without power since Hurricane Maria hit last month.

“FCC issues experimental license to Google to provide emergency cellular service in Puerto Rico through Project Loon balloons,” Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, wrote on Twitter. 


Pai said on Friday he was launching a Hurricane Recovery Task Force focused on providing aid to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services. The Hurricane Recovery Task Force will allow us to do just that,” Paid said.

The FCC license comes as Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. 

Eight-three percent of the island’s cellular sites remain out of commission, making communication on and off the island difficult, according to the agency.