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The US Federal Communications Commission said late on Friday it had approved Alphabet’s application to provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico through balloons.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 per cent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites.
Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licenced mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico.
Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the US 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,” Pai said in statement.