More than 80% of Puerto Rico's cellular towers are still out of service more than two weeks after the arrival there of Hurricane Maria, and almost one-third of the island's counties have no service, according to the FCC.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services.
Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In a filing with the FCC, Google wrote that it wanted approval to use the balloons to "support licensed mobile carriers' restoration of limited communications capability" in Puerto Rico.
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Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello seems open to the idea but there will be a few regulatory and political hurdles to overcome first before Tesla's SolarCity firm can get to work.
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".
Thanks to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's cellular infrastructure has been badly damaged.
Loon balloons, which carry communications equipment as high as 20 kilometers into the atmosphere, would circumvent those earthbound hurdles - at least temporarily. Now around 10 percent of residents on the island have power. Loon balloons have already been successfully launched in Peru back in May, providing Internet connectivity in flood zones around Lima, Chimbote, and Piura.
But the Puerto Rico situation is different.