05 June 2019
Google’s parent company Alphabet will be using internet balloons to provide data to Peru's earthquake victims. The company uses solar-powered balloons as Wi-Fi carriers to deliver signals from up in the air. It is using its balloons to provide LTE to areas of Peru affected by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake which had hit the city earlier.
Loon was able to respond to the situation quickly as it is already active in Peru. The company stated that it has been negotiating a commercial contract with telecommunications company Telefónica to provide internet access to remote areas around the country.
Alphabet had started installing infrastructure and testing the balloons last month. At the time of the earthquake, Peru's government and Telefónica asked Loon to send balloons to the affected area. Google sent the first balloon on Tuesday and is planning to send more soon.
"As Loon has evolved, we've come to better understand our ability to respond in disaster scenarios," Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth stated.
This is not the first time Loon has sent balloons to help people in disaster-hit areas. In 2017, Loon sent balloons to bring internet access to people in Puerto Rico after it was hit by Hurricane Maria.
"In this instance, we were able to begin providing service in about 48 hours, because we had already deployed the building blocks of the Loon network," Westgarth wrote.
Loon provides service to billions of people who don't have it in all parts of the world. The company has planned to launch commercial service later this year which will provide internet in remote areas of the world.