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Loon seeks FCC’s OK to launch project trial in P.R.

Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. — Google’s parent company — has filed an application asking the Federal Communications Commission to grant an experimental license to conduct a market trial that calls for transmitting broadband service to maritime vessels from fixed base stations in Puerto Rico.

In its petition, where most of the proprietary content of the proposed project was blacked out, Loon revealed that it would transmit in “the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz (known as E-band) from fixed base stations on the island using High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) as relay transmission points to deliver broadband service to maritime vessels operating in line-of-sight.”

Loon is working to bring HAPS-powered internet access to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Loon’s unmanned HAPS balloons are capable of months-long flight at altitudes of approximately 20 kilometers.

Depending on the application and configuration, Loon’s balloons may be equipped with an energy-efficient communications payload that employs standard LTE frequencies for the user access links, or, alternatively, they may be equipped with E-band payloads for feeder link service.

“Given Loon’s ability to expeditiously launch HAPS balloons that cover a large geographic footprint for end user or backhaul communications, our technology has already demonstrated itself as a valuable transmission medium to restore mission critical communications after natural disasters,” Loon said in its application to the FCC.

In fact, Alphabet launched its HAPS balloons over Puerto Rico after Hurricane María struck in 2017 to provide wireless connectivity to more than 100,000 local residents, after communications systems were knocked out.

Loon has yet to announce the start of its new project, according to the application submitted at the FCC.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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