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FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico


The Federal Communications Commission has given Project Loon, an experimental balloon-powered internet program, a temporary license to provide cell service in Puerto Rico.

Alphabet will attempt to provide service in Puerto Rico after the FCC approved their experimental license for Project Loon, an initiative that launches giant balloons with network hardware in them to provide internet access to users on the ground.

Days after the agency pledged $77 million to fix communications on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, newly-reconfirmed FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced the creation of the Hurricane Recovery Task Force. "It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services".

Separately, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a Twitter posting late on Friday that he had a "great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight".

On September 29th the X team said it was looking into ways to help Puerto Rico with Project Loon, similar to the way it helped provide service in Peru after extreme rains and flooding struck the nation in March.

Musk agreed. Hours later, he announced he was delaying the unveiling of Tesla's new semi-truck and diverting resources, in part to "increase battery production for Puerto Rico and other affected areas". It had partnered with a telecomm company and was testing balloons. Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power.

In a statement given to Engadget, a spokesperson for Alphabet's X lab said the team needs to work with a partner network of a local telecom, like Telefonica, to make it all work.

Project Loon sends balloons intro the stratosphere - twice as high as commercial airliners - where they are self-powered by solar panels.

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