Federal communications officials hope that an innovative project designed to bring internet access to remote areas could help restore Puerto Rico's cellular service.
The FCC late last week authorized an experimental license for Project Loon, an initiative by Google parent company Alphabet to deploy antennas anywhere in the world by affixing them to large balloons.
The effort also received consent agreements from existing carriers in Puerto Rico to utilize spectrum in the 900 MHz band, and FCC officials said the project will attempt to initiate service on the island.
The agency last week allocated nearly $77 million to restore cellular service on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria effectively wiped out cellular infrastructure in the territories late last month.
"More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, millions of Puerto Ricans are still without access to much-needed communications services,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “That’s why we need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island."