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FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

Thanks to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's cellular infrastructure has been badly damaged.

But in its application to the FCC, Alphabet included letters and emails from eight wireless carriers in Puerto Rico, in which they consented for Loon to use their frequencies for disaster relief and to restore limited communications.

United States authorities have approved Alphabet Inc's application to use its experimental Project Loon balloons to provide emergency mobile phone service to disaster-stricken Puerto Rico, as Tesla said it would send more battery supplies.

Loon, part of a series of futuristic projects out of Alphabet's "X" laboratory, was originally created to provide internet coverage in under-developed rural areas. However, it's possible some would need a software update, which might have to be delivered over the air in Puerto Rico. The balloons have been used previously in flood-stricken Peru to restore cell service, with fantastic results. She added that "we've been making solid progress" on that next step. The company deployed balloons to Peru earlier this year after flooding destroyed homes and displaced thousands of people in that country.

"The objective of the [Special Temporary Authority] is to support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability in areas of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria", the license reads.

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Mr. Pai urged wireless carriers to cooperate with Project Loon "to maximize this effort's chances of success".

Just last week, the Loon team said it was looking into helping Puerto Rico, still devastated by Hurricane Maria, regain connectivity.

A Google Project Loon internet balloon is seen at the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California May 19, 2016.

-Jack Nicas contributed to this article.