The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it has granted an experimental license to Google to provide an emergency cellular service throughout hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico through its project Loon. The decision comes after FCC said that it needed 'innovative approaches' to restore connectivity to Puerto Rico as majority of citizens still have no access to cell service more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit.
According to the FCC, the license that has been issued to Google will allow Project Loon to deploy its network of balloons using spectrum in the 900MHz band, having obtained consent from the existing carriers in the US territory.
"More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services," FCC Chairman Pai said over the weekend. "That's why 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.”
The special experimental license is necessary according to US Laws and is needed to support carriers in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. The license which expires between October 6, 2017 and April 4, 2018, says that it is "needed to support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (MTA025) affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria".
"I'm glad that 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," added Pai.