Google to use balloons to provide hurricane-hit Puerto Rico cellular service

Alphabet will provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico through its Project Loon balloons. (Reuters)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Google to use balloons to provide hurricane-hit Puerto Rico cellular service

WASHINGTON: The US Federal Communications Commission said late on Friday it had approved Alphabet’s application to provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico through its Project Loon balloons.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites.
Alphabet, which announced the test project in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide Internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico.


British boat rescues migrants trying to cross Channel

Updated 18 February 2019
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British boat rescues migrants trying to cross Channel

  • British border officials have picked up 34 people who were trying to cross the English Channel in a small boat
  • The Home Office said the passengers are thought to be migrants and their nationalities were not known yet

LONDON: A British boat rescued 34 migrants crossing the Channel aboard a small motorised boat on Monday, Britain's interior ministry said.
"Today Border Force responded to an incident in the Channel involving a small boat containing 34 people," the ministry said in a statement.
"The group were brought to Dover and have been transferred to immigration officials for interview," it added, saying that men, women and children were on board and that three men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
French authorities earlier said that "a fishing boat gave the alarm shortly after 8:00 am (0700 GMT)" after spotting the boat off the tip of northern France.
French navy, police and customs launched a helicopter, a tug boat and three fast vessels, while sea rescue services also tried to rescue the migrants.
By the time they reached the migrants' location, however, "they had crossed over to the English side" of the Channel where they were picked up by a British vessel, said the regional authority in northern France.
Two British Border Force cutters and a coastal patrol vessel were involved in the rescue, according to UK authorities.
Some 500 people -- most of them over the last two months of 2018 -- attempted to cross the Channel to Britain last year, compared with just 13 known attempts in 2017.
French interior ministry figures show 276 people successfully reached British waters last year.
London in December dispatched a navy ship to help coastguard boats watch over the 21 miles (33 kilometres) of sea that separate France and Britain at its narrowest point.
France also responded by announcing broader surveillance measures in early January.
The number of Channel crossings was just a tiny fraction of the 55,756 successful attempts made across the Mediterranean to Spain that were recorded by the UN's refugee agency in 2018.