FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico
FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

08 October, 2017

In a report issued yesterday (PDF), the FCC said 83 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico are still out of service, along with 57 percent in the US Virgin Islands and 100 percent in St. John.

Communications remain patchy on the island.

The US Federal Communications Commission announced its decision on Friday evening, one of a number of ways in which tech companies are helping rebuild services.

Alphabet has confirmed it plans to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to support the restoration of "limited communications capability" in the USA unincorporated territory.

Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc, said on Friday the company would send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island over two weeks ago, Reuters reported.

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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".

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to send a "connectivity team" to help restore communications in ravaged Puerto Rico. The balloons that were deployed in Peru, in fact, were launched from Puerto Rico.

"To deliver signal to people's devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network - the balloons can't do it alone", she said, adding that the company is "making solid progress on this next step".

According to Wired, Project Loon-which is described as "a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, created to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide"-would allow Puerto Rico residents to get voice and data service".

Loon balloons, which carry communications equipment as high as 20 kilometers into the atmosphere, would circumvent those earthbound hurdles - at least temporarily.

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