The FCC granted an experimental license for Project Loon, led by Google’s parent company Alphabet, to help provide emergency cell service in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services,” said Chairman Pai. Project Loon is a network of balloons that provides connectivity to users on the ground. Pai called the approach “innovative” and said more such ideas are needed to restore connectivity on the island.
“I’m glad the FCC was able to grant this experimental license with dispatch and I urge wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon to maximize this effort’s chances of success,” said Pai. Project Loon obtained consent agreements to use land mobile radio spectrum in the 900 MHz band from existing carriers operating within Puerto Rico.
Thelicenseextends from October 6, 2017 until April 4, 2018, and was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet’s X lab who works on Project Loon. The experiment may be a shot in the arm to the technology (see more in Going Up).