The continued disaster in Puerto Rico is making some unusual bedfellows.
On Wednesday, Apple introduced that it’s going to, with AT&T’s assist, allow the 900 MHz Band eight ban cell service on many iPhones in Puerto Rico. That band can solely hook up with Google’s Undertaking Loon.
“We’re working with AT&T to activate mobile service for iPhone customers in Puerto Rico because the island recovers from Hurricane Maria. Apple engineers have created a particular service settings replace which customers related to Wi-Fi or who’re related to a mobile community will routinely be prompted to obtain all through the week,” mentioned Apple in an official assertion.
Devastated on an virtually unprecedented scale by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to rebuild core elements of its infrastructure, together with primary communication applied sciences. Many individuals reported being unable to contact mates and households by way of cellphones and the web.
900 MHz (a 3G Prolonged GSM community) isn’t the conventional band for cell communications and isn’t even one licensed to be used within the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, it’s the communication band supported by Google’s Undertaking Loon challenge.
Earlier this month, Google received the okay to drift its still-experimental, helium-balloon-based connection expertise over the storm-ravaged island. The Loon balloons are designed to offer web connectivity for rural areas and function, roughly, as unmoored cell-towers, floating within the stratosphere and staying aloft for six months. A community service, like AT&T, communicates from the bottom with the closest Loon balloon and the balloons talk with one another. Google’s balloons can present as much as a 10 Mbps LTE connectivity for cellphone house owners on the bottom.
Nonetheless, earlier than AT&T iPhone house owners (iPhone 5c and above operating iOS 10 and better) can hook up with Google’s Loon balloons, they want a vital service replace which is able to allow the 900 MHz Band eight. The iPhone’s cell broadband radio already helps the provisional band, it is simply not enabled on the telephone so the machine does not waste battery energy scanning for a band that normally does not have service.
The replace is relatively tiny (it may be measured in kilobytes), however the query stays: If there’s restricted connectivity, how are Puerto Rico’s iPhone customers going to obtain it?
In response to StatusPR, a governmental web page devoted to monitoring Puerto Rica’s infrastructure within the wake of Hurricane Maria, greater than half of the U.S. territory’s cell towers are out of fee and 75% of cell antennas are nonetheless not useful.
There are pockets of connectivity and, general, StatusPR studies 61% of the Puerto Rican telecommunication system is again on-line. This, nonetheless, contains wired and wi-fi programs. It is not clear if AT&T iPhone clients may obtain that service replace from wired programs.
We have contacted AT&T for clarification and can replace this story with their response.