Facebook and Google once aimed to connect the world. Now they would be happy just to reconnect part of it.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to send a “connectivity team” to help restore communications in ravaged Puerto Rico. Google parent company Alphabet offered to send its Wi-Fi balloons. They were among several tech companies proposing disaster response ideas, most aimed at getting phone and internet service up and running.
Some of these plans, of course, are more aspirational than others.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk often takes to Twitter to mull over ideas, but on Friday his musings about sending his company’s solar-powered batteries to help restore Puerto Rico’s power attracted the attention of the island’s governor.
“Let’s talk,” said Gov. Ricardo Rossello in a Friday tweet .
Musk agreed. Hours later, he announced he was delaying the unveiling of Tesla’s new semi-truck and diverting resources, in part to “increase battery production for Puerto Rico and other affected areas.”
The need for help in restoring power and communication after Hurricane Maria is great: The Puerto Rican energy authority reported Saturday that about 88 percent of the island is still without power. The Federal Communications Commission said Saturday that 82 percent of cell sites remain out in Puerto Rico; 58 percent are out of service in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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