Loon balloons provide emergency connection to the network and the Internet in Peru after an earthquake of magnitude - 8.0

    As you already know ( from the previous article ), Loon pays special attention to providing communication around the world using atmospheric balls. Useful during natural disasters, Alphabet again demonstrated the versatility of its approach, quickly providing LTE connectivity after an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 in Peru, when everyone wanted to know about the condition and well-being of their loved ones.

    On May 26, 2019, a strong earthquake struck the remote region of Peru - the Amazon. Thanks to existing commercial testing and working with Telefónica to provide mobile Internet access in areas with insufficient accessibility, Loon was able to communicate within 48 hours.

    An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 occurred in the region on Sunday morning. At the request of the Government of Peru and Tefónica, we quickly redirected a group of balloons to the affected area. Early on Tuesday morning, the first balloons arrived and began serving LTE users downstairs. More balls will arrive soon.
    During trials in various countries, Loon launched balls from their own venues in Winnemucca, and now in Puerto Rico, and not in the places they are going to serve. Loon balloons (the second name is "Gadzooks") can rise and fall to catch the winds in the direction the company wants them to move. Balloons that currently provide services in North Peru are moving from the company's base in Puerto Rico. North Peru was hit hardest by the earthquake, resulting in at least two deaths.

    Loon coverage map in Peru
    Image: Loon

    Loon balloons are scattered throughout the north of Peru to provide LTE coverage in densely populated areas. Each balloon covers an area of ​​5000 square kilometers and wirelessly connects to the nearest balloons, creating a transport highway to the nearest ground infrastructure. A Loon spokesman explained that the regions receiving emergency assistance include some areas covered by the current trials of the company, as well as areas outside this area. In this case, Loon does something new - it sends signals from ground-based infrastructure to one balloon, and then transmits these signals from the balloon to other balloons to provide communications in the affected areas. The company previously demonstrated the ability to transmit signals using seven balloons,

    In the past, in case of emergency, Loon could provide services such as: SMS, e-mail and “basic Internet”, but without the ability to transmit voice, that is, calls. The company follows the same plan in Peru and currently offers LTE services. Balloons transmit signals in the range from 28 to 700 MHz, and Loon uses the E band (75-85 MHz) for feedback. About 20,000 people used balloon services during the first 48 hours.

    Loon had not yet set out to unveil its commercial service plans for Telefonica, but the quake made adjustments to the plan. However, if the deal goes through, Telefonica will not be the first wireless provider to work with Loon - Telkom Kenya has already signed a contract this year.
    To make the Internet work in a balloon, it takes a lot of time to plan and configure. Before we can begin to provide services, we need to establish a ground-based infrastructure, integrate into the mobile operator’s network (MNO), obtain the necessary permissions from regulatory and aviation authorities, and, of course, launch balloons and direct them to the right place.

    However, since Loon is already active in the country, as is the case in Peru, our willingness to respond to natural disasters can be measured hours or days, not weeks.
    In contrast, in 2017, after Hurricane Maria, the Loon project took four weeks to deploy balloons in Puerto Rico using AT&T and the T-Mobile network. Loon received permission from the FCC to provide emergency communications, and three weeks after the start of service, 100,000 people connected to the balloons.

    As Loon evolved, we began to better understand how to respond in the event of natural disasters. Actually, reaction is an inaccurate way to evaluate our unique capabilities. Willingness is a more accurate way to understand them.
    Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon, said in an official statement.

    You can read more about the development of Loon here .

    Links to sources:
    spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/loons-balloons-deliver-emergency-service-to- peru-following-80-earthquake

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