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Tag Archives: Project Loon

FCC Grants Experimental License for Project Loon in Puerto Rico

By The Editors of AGL

You can’t say that the FCC isn’t trying to do its part to help the people struggling in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. It has provided up to $77 million in Universal Service Funding to help restore service. Most recently it has granted an experimental license for Project Loon, led by Google’s parent company Alphabet, to help provide emergency cellular service as the cell service is restored.

“More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services,” said Chairman Pai.  “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.  I’m glad the 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.”

Project Loon is a network of balloons that provides connectivity to users on the ground.  Now that the experimental license has been approved, it will attempt to initiate service in Puerto Rico.  Project Loon obtained consent agreements to use land mobile radio (LMR) radio spectrum in the 900 MHz band from existing carriers operating within Puerto Rico.


Google Shoots for Moon with Balloons Hovering Earth

March 9, 2017

By Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor, Applied Wireless Technology

Courtesy Google

Courtesy Google

Google’s Project Loon (floating wireless transmitters on balloons) is back in the news. Alphabet, Google’s holding company, is really a bit of a Disneyland for inventors. For example, it’s latest propaganda move is to talk about “moonshots” – various schemes that may seem a bit, well, loony, like their balloon ideas. Some are doomed to failure from the get-go, but if you have as much money as Google, you can afford to be a bit eclectic.

In fact, there is a bit of humor in this. the person in charge has the title of “Captain of Moonshots” and his name is Astro Teller – for real! And he has an interesting philosophy; failure is a necessary condition of moonshot-taking, ergo the more speculative a venture the greater the risk of failure.

Interesting position. Now the concept of failure becomes a key component of success. That may be why Teller is trying float the notion that using balloons to deliver wireless connectivity is going really well.

project-loonI haven’t seen any Google balloons yet, but Teller says that it all comes down to clever algorithms, in this case ones that can control these balloons such that they form geostationary clusters rather than just floating around at the mercy of air currents. This kind of model is much closer to being a viable commercial service and there are a few up in the air, so to speak, over Peru. Perhaps this is their beta test.

Google has more than its share of off-the-wall ideas. So far, none of them have hit it big so it’s hard to draw any conclusions about Project Loon, or any of the other variants, being anything other than just another moonshot. But it must be a blast working for that company.