Big Tech has big plans to help reconnect Puerto Rico

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It could help provide the people of Puerto Rico with access to cellular service to connect with loved ones and access life-saving information.

"It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services", Mr Pai said in statement.

The Loon balloons work by travelling 20 km into the stratosphere where the winds are stratified -each layer of wind varies in direction and speed. It's dedicated to repairing damage caused by the entire season's slew of storms, but will focus on fixing the communications networks on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the latter of which was so damaged that almost 90 percent of its cell towers were downed by Hurricane Maria. To deliver the signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone. It is unclear if the island's telecommunications industry currently has the means to assist Alphabet, but the industry is willing to try.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the application of Alphabet Inc-the company that runs Google-to provide the service in emergency circumstances.

The project - called Loon - could help restore some communications capabilities after Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico's infrastructure. Like dirigibles, the Loon aerostats are equipped with ballonets that can be inflated with air, reducing the volume of the lifting gas and allowing climbs and descents.

This move comes just a week after the Project Loon team tweeted that they looking at ways to bring emergency connectivity to Puerto Rico.

Much of the ground work is being spearheaded by nonprofit organizations and small firms with expertise in rural or emergency communications.

Michael Carowtiz, special counsel to Chairman Pai, has been appointed to chair the task force. "Next steps soon to follow".

After setting up a network on the island of Vieques, off the main island of Puerto Rico, one team watched from a roof as local residents started getting text alerts from family members who had been trying to get in touch. Eight carriers in the region have temporarily handed over frequencies for six months, with X planning to use 30 Loon balloons when the service goes live.