U.S. News


Giant Balloons Are Delivering Cell Service To Puerto Rico

Project Loon, an experimental balloon-powered internet program, teamed up with AT&T to help the island reconnect.
Posted at 4:33 PM, Oct 21, 2017

Right now, giant balloons above Puerto Rico are providing internet and cell service.

In early October, the Federal Communications Commission gave Project Loon, a balloon-powered internet program from the firm X, an experimental license to provide emergency cell service to the island after Hurricane Maria.

At the time, it was unclear if the project would even get off the ground.

But the company teamed with AT&T, and now — with the help of Puerto Rico's government and a number of federal agencies — balloons are providing basic communication and internet services to some people on the island.

As of Oct. 20, nearly 69 percent of cell sites were still out of service after the storm hit in September. Some individual counties are still completely without service.

X says it doesn't know how well the service will work since the technology is experimental, but it says it will provide service for as long as it can.