Google Helps Restore Mobile and Internet Connection in Puerto Rico

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. cut off / kʌt ɔf / (phrasal) – to stop the supply of something

    Our water supply was cut off when our pipe broke.

  2. durable / ˈdʊər ə bəl / (adj) – able to resist damage and last long

    My shoes are durable because they’re made of leather.

  3. plunge / plʌndʒ / (v) – to drop or fall quickly

    Her drone plunged to the sea because she lost control of it.

  4. descend / dɪˈsɛnd / (v) – to go down

    When I threw pieces of bread on the ground, the birds descended from the tree.

  5. erratic / ɪˈræt ɪk / (adj) – not regular or unstable

    The erratic power supply caused a series of blackouts.


Read the text below.

Google has helped restore Internet services in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria interrupted the country’s communication services.

Hurricane Maria was classified as Category 4, which is the second highest intensity of a hurricane. Due to the hurricane’s intensity, the majority of Puerto Ricans lost access to electricity. Cellular and Internet services also sustained damages, causing communication lines to be cut off.

Because of these massive damages, Puerto Rico’s local government needed help from foreign organizations to speed up recovery efforts.

One of the private companies that extended help to Puerto Rico is Google. The tech giant helped temporarily restore cellular and Internet services through Project Loon. The project involves releasing gigantic balloons that receive signals from Puerto Rico’s local telecommunication companies to the atmosphere. The balloons then transmit the signals they receive to devices such as smartphones, allowing people to reconnect to cellular networks and the Internet.

Each balloon is made of a durable type of plastic. It can fly twice as high as airplanes and is powered by solar energy that can sustain its altitude for 100 days. After 100 days, the balloon will release some gas so that it can begin landing slowly. In case the balloon releases too much air and starts plunging to the ground, it has a built-in parachute that will help it descend gradually.

In addition to efforts to restore communication lines, other organizations are also trying to address Puerto Rico’s erratic electricity supply. Tesla has sent and installed hundreds of batteries to serve as an emergency power supply in some areas. These batteries can also be recharged with solar energy.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Why do you think Project Loon is one of the first programs implemented after the calamity? Discuss.
• In what other situations do you think Google’s Project Loon can be useful?

Discussion B

• In addition to Internet connection, what other technological services can be affected by calamities (e.g. television/radio broadcasting, etc.)?
• From the technologies you mentioned, which would you prioritize to fix after a calamity? Explain.

Category : Technology/Innovations