Google’s Alphabet restores cell service in Puerto Rico with Project Loon balloons

Alphabet Project Loon balloons

Alphabet Project Loon balloons

Google parent company, Alphabet, to help Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands regain wireless service. The company will attempt to enable LTE connectivity using its high-flying Project Loon balloons.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. 83% of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company deploying temporary sites.

“More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. That’s why we need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island.


Loon was developed by X, part of Alphabet’s innovation group. It helps Peru earlier this year, amidst significant flooding and hopes to replicate this success. Yet before it proceeds with its plans in Puerto Rico, Loon needs to find a carrier network to partner with. Loon had already working with Telefonica in Peru, which sped up the process.

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Libby Leahy, a company spokesperson, said, we’re grateful for the support of the FCC and the Puerto Rican authorities as we work hard to see if it’s possible to use Loon balloons to bring emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need. To deliver signal to people’s devices, Loon needs integrated with a telco partner’s network the balloons can’t do it alone. We making solid progress on this next step and would like to thank everyone who’s been lending a hand.

The Loon project consists of a network of high altitude balloons to a height above 60,000 feet. Loon balloons designed to “ride the wind” to get to a destination and super-pressurized to withstand for over 100 days in the stratosphere.

Signals transmitted directly to LTE-enabled devices and routed through a local carrier, and the balloons raised and lowered to an altitude with winds blowing in the desired direction.

Tesla and Google joining an effort to rebuild the island’s infrastructure, includes Facebook.