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FCC approves cellular service in Puerto Rico through Project Loon balloons (twitter.com)
86 points by doener 102 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments



You can see the balloons on flight trackers. There's one by the Virgin Islands right now https://www.flightradar24.com/HBAL194


That's very cool. I hope if it becomes semi-pernanent that they're able to keep the balloons from hitting the Arecibo Radio Observatory with radio frequency interference.


The observatory is in a high altitude and remote part of the island. I'd be surprised if they get any coverage out there since it would make more sense to keep them over the more populated regions.


100,000 people live within a few miles of it, in the municipality with the same name. It's not all that far from the coast:

https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/23957081#map=12/18.4031/-6...


Priorities?


Great to see bureaucracy not getting in the way of something like this. Is there a link somewhere about Google’s tech and motivation?


There's a brochure:

https://x.company/loon/

They want to increase the availability of internet in remote areas.


if only it was original Google idea, and not something stolen by X division like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15422157

https://www.wired.com/story/the-lawsuit-that-could-pop-alpha...


Many people had this idea decades before Google. In the 60" the NASA tested the idea of "Satellite balloons" [0].

Following this experimentation, engineers in France planned to create (in the sixties) a national network of telecom (atmospheric, not satellite) balloons, but it turned out it was easier to build telecom towers.

Myself I wrote a Web site in the late 90" explaining the technology (at that time) and economics of such networks. I think it was one of the earliest proposals where active platforms (Echo balloons were passive) and modern telecom (at that time) technology, where brought together. I cannot find it on the interweb anymore.

Later in the 2000" but before Loons there were several research projects on such high altitude platforms. [1]

I filled an unsuccessful proposal for such a project inside my company in 2008.

[0] https://www.space.com/8973-1st-communication-satellite-giant...

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060717103934.h...


Here's the Space Data patent:

https://www.google.com/patents/US7801522?dq=7,801,522&hl=en&...

It sure is broad and not very specific. One of the claims seems to boil down to turning the radio off sometimes.


Between this and Tesla, it seems like Puerto Rico might be a great opportunity to try out experimental technology.


Tesla isn't really deploying experimental technology.

Short of some evidence that they have installed an enormous amount of storage and panels, I'm going to be cynical and assume that they are mostly deploying marketing.


I may be incorrect, but it's not even that. I think someone on twitter asked Musk if they could help provide power to PR. And Musk basically said yes they could, like they've done in other areas. I don't think it went any further than that.


There are some news stories about Tesla employees working on the island.

http://fortune.com/2017/09/28/tesla-battery-puerto-rico-powe...

But the goal is 20 billion kw-h (I guess per year):

https://www.eia.gov/state/print.php?sid=RQ

So all credit to Tesla for helping with a few tens of thousands of those kilowatt hours, but there is need to keep a firm eye on the reality of the situation.


No in a disaster you want rock solid old tech aka flying in some gensets though I assume its the grid/distribution that is lacking not generating capacity.


Is this real? Better URL?



This does seem to be Ajit Pai’s chief of staff. All the articles I’ve seen merely reference the tweets.




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