Technology

Loon balloons provided 4G-internet destroyed after Peru earthquake

At the end of May 2019 in Peru occurreda devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 - in some regions the Internet was completely disconnected, while thousands of people needed to know about the condition of their loved ones. To build a network, the government and local telecom operator Tefónica turned to Loon (like Google, which is part of Alphabet Holding) for help to distribute the Internet using their own balloons. Emergency repair the Internet failed within 48 hours.

The aftershocks occurred on Sunday morning, andafter receiving a request for help, Loon immediately rerouted its balloons from Puerto Rico to Peru. To move them, as usual, wind power was used - balloons can rise and fall and catch wind streams in the direction in which they need to move. It took two days for the devices to overcome more than 3000 kilometers.

Loon company restored internet in Peru

Loon balloons have spread throughoutthe territory of the northern part of Peru - each of them provided with a 4G-Internet zone with an area of ​​5000 square kilometers. Only one balloon was associated with the ground station, which communicated and transmitted signals to other devices. Previously, the company demonstrated only the ability to transmit signals between seven balloons, but this time their number reached ten.

The location of the balloons Loon in Peru

The company was able to provide Peruvians with basiccommunication kit: SMS, email and internet access with minimal speed. Having connected to the network, users have access only to text information - the Internet is not intended for making calls. During the first 48 hours, around 20,000 people used the Internet from Loon balloons.

In which countries does the Internet work with balloons?

At the moment, Loon is officiallyonly cooperates with one wireless internet provider, the Kenyan provider Telkom Kenya. However, after an emergency, Telefonica may also be interested in the company's commercial services. As a rule, the deployment of the Internet on balloons takes quite a lot of time due to the need to establish ground infrastructure, integrate into the network of a telecom operator and obtain permission from regulatory authorities. But, in the case of Peru, it may take less time.

The difficulty of deploying a Loon network has been proven in2017, when they tried to establish it in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The Federal Communications Commission only authorized emergency communications three weeks after the start of the service - eventually the network provided 100,000 people with Internet. According to representatives, in an emergency, preparedness is more important than the speed of reaction.

It is noteworthy that in the past, Loon was the usual division of research company Google X. You can read about the secret “laboratory X” in our material.

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