Movistar and Project Loon complete wide scale trial as part of flood relief efforts

22 May 2017

Spanish-owned cellco Movistar Peru partnered with Google’s Project Loon to provide internet connectivity emergency relief during recent floods in Peru, the cellco confirmed last week. Flooding in March and April this year caused serious damage to public infrastructure, including telecommunications networks and, as part of efforts to re-establish communication services, Movistar and Project Loon agreed to expand the scope of their ongoing technical trials to provide temporary relief to the affected population. Project Loon uses balloons flying at a height of 20km to provide mobile coverage by relaying the signal from a site on the ground, across the balloon network and back down to end-users. According to Movistar, the relief effort provided internet access to customers across 40,000 square kilometres in the centre and northwest of the country, around the highlands of Lima, Chimbote and Piura, providing more than 160GB of data. Trials of the platform in the preceding months had focused on integrating Project Loon’s technology with Movistar’s network, but the operator notes that the relief effort was the first ‘wide and successful trial directly to people’s phones’ adding that it was also the first time the system had been used to provide connectivity to ‘tens of thousands of people’. Movistar parent Telefonica and Project Loon have been cooperating in the Latin America region since 2014, with a view to providing connectivity to remote areas on a more permanent basis.