Dallas-based AT&T collaborates in Project Loon effort to reconnect Puerto Rico back to the communication grid

After Hurricane Maria, 95 percent of Puerto Rico’s cell towers were wiped out, leaving the island without access to communication with the outside world. In an effort to reconnect Puerto Rico, Dallas-based AT&T is working with Google’s parent company Alphabet’s X division as well as Apple to introduce a provisional band of LTE.

The initiative incorporates Alphabet X’s Project Loon, a fleet of balloons that serve as cell phone towers in the sky. First developed in 2013, the technology relies on solar energy and can stay afloat for more than three months. The balloons were initially vulnerable to wind but Alphabet X recently developed ways to move the balloons into the desired places. The purpose of the balloons is to allow those living in remote and rural areas to have internet access, and in the wake of Hurricane Maria, to reconnect Puerto Rico.

However, the balloons extend an existing cellular network, and do not create an independent one. As a result, Alphabet X needed a cellular provider to partner with Project Loon. Dallas-based AT&T which provides service on the island agreed to work with Alphabet X.  AT&T said, “We’re using both traditional and innovative technologies, and are collaborating with humanitarian groups, local and federal governments, and organizations like Project Loon who are bringing additional resources to Puerto Rico to assist in the recovery efforts.” Apple is also working with Project Loon to connect iPhone users on the island.

Because of these joint efforts, AT&T announced it was able to reconnect more than 60 percent of people in Puerto Rico and 90 percent of those in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Those numbers are likely to grow.

Are you working on innovative ways to extend internet service and provide access during emergencies like Project Loon’s efforts to reconnect Puerto Rico? You may be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and can receive up to 14% on your expenses, even if your experiments were not successful. To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today.

Swanson Reed regularly hosts free webinars and provides free IRS CE credits as well as CPE credits for CPA’s.  For more information please visit us at www.swansonreed.com/webinars or contact your usual Swanson Reed representative.


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