Loon, the internet connectivity subsidiary of Alphabet, is partnering with AT&T, to assist with communications during natural disasters. Loon balloons, flying in the stratosphere and integrated with AT&T networks, can be quickly deployed to serve as “floating cell towers” to restore phone and data service.
Loon has played this emergency role in the past, including in partnership with AT&T. In 2017, Loon deployed balloons to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. That year Loon also deployed balloons to Peru to restore connectivity lost to extensive flooding.
Based on 2017 experience, Loon has continued to work in Peru, now launching commercial operations to connect schools, clinics, businesses and consumers in remote parts of the country.
Loon reports it has received regulatory approval from 50 countries to fly its balloons. The new agreement with AT&T will involve all countries in which AT&T operates or in which AT&T has international partner roaming agreements.