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Balloons Provide Internet Access for 100k in Puerto Rico
PUBLISHED: Nov 13, 2017
(A Project Loon balloon launching in Nevada, en route to Puerto Rico. PHOTO CREDIT: Project Loon.)

It has been nearly two months since Hurricane Maria touched down and caused massive devastation in Puerto Rico, and still a significant portion of the island's population is without electricity or access to working phones. And while recovery efforts in Puerto Rico will stretch on for months, if not years, more than 100,000 citizens gained internet access last week, thanks to Alphabet X's Project Loon.

According to its website, Project Loon is a "network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in remote and rural areas worldwide." The project was granted an experimental license from the FCC last month to attempt to help Puerto Rico get back online, and it announced late last week that, with the help of AT&T and T-Mobile, Project Loon was able to deliver basic internet services to more than 100,000 on the island. 

The balloons were launched from Nevada and directed to Puerto Rico using machine learning. Once in place, the balloons are able to relay internet from working ground networks to people in unconnected areas. The balloons are designed to hover 11 miles above the Earth's surface, and each one can cover to up 5,000 square kilometers.

“In times of crisis, being able to communicate with loved ones, emergency services and critical information is key,” Alastair Westgarth, project lead at Project Loon, said in a statement. “We hope that the connectivity Project Loon has provided over the last few weeks has been helpful, and would like to thank AT&T, T-Mobile and our government partners who made these efforts possible.”
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HPA Consulting Group, Inc. (HPA) is a privately owned consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, NY providing specialized consulting services in Voice and Data Communications. HPA was founded in 1994 by Bill Hughes and Tom Phelps. Together, the HPA Team has over 200 years of experience in many facets of voice and data communications.

HPA facilitates businesses in determining the best communications solution for their company. This involves voice and data networks, call centers and broadband applications. In addition, HPA manages the telecom expenses for businesses to get them the most cost effective telecom solutions possible. HPA also helps telecommunications providers and manufacturers with their marketing, sales and business planning.

Since HPA's formation in 1994, over 400 clients have contracted to HPA for services. HPA has planned, designed and implemented a variety of voice and data solutions that have enabled businesses to enhance their operations in a cost-effective manner. HPA has also audited telecommunications invoices and recommended changes to client’s telecommunications services that have resulted in millions of dollars in savings for HPA’s clients.

Finally, HPA has performed work in a variety of areas for Local Exchange, Wireless, CATV, Long Distance Companies, Manufacturers and Software Providers.

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Some HPA Projects Include:

  • Designed and implemented a complete new voice, data and security network for a regional bank and their branches. Results included improved customer service in their call center, improved communication between locations and redundancy at all locations including the branches.
  • Designed and implemented a new VoIP telecommunications network including new equipment and services for a Rochester based not-for-profit with over 15 locations.
  • Redesigned a not-for-profit organization’s telecommunications system in five cities by implementing new services and pricing and auditing telephone bills. The savings paid for all new telephone equipment in less than two years.
  • Manage the communications network for a regional hospital in central New York. HPA has lowered the costs for the hospital and at the same time implemented a more up-to-date network with more functionality and redundancy.
  • Designed and implemented a Call Center for a Benefit Company in Rochester. Project resulted in drastic improvements in customer service.
  • Planned and designed a new voice and data network for a Law Firm with six locations in New York State.

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