With millions still without access to phone and internet services more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted an experimental license to Project Loon to provide wireless access using high altitude balloons.
Project Loon, an R&D initiative being pursued by X (formerly Google), proposes using a network of high altitude balloons to provide communications services to undeveloped regions of the globe — or areas struck by natural disastors, such as Puerto Rico.
The experimental license enables Project Loon to use 900 MHz land mobile radio (LMR) spectrum after obtaining consent agreements from license holders in Puerto Rico.
Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, said,
“We need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island. Project Loon is one such approach. It could help provide the people of Puerto Rico with access to cellular service to connect with loved ones and access life-saving information.”
Pai urged wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon to make the effort successful.