The Republican commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission is arguing that the technology exists to deliver internet to Cuba as the communist regime has restricted access amid ongoing protests there. But he says the plan would need approval from President Joe Biden.
“There's an urgent need right now, [but] a lot depends on the level of federal support,” FCC Commission Brendan Carr told the Washington Free Beacon last week, regarding a plan that would leverage a defunct Google initiative to fly high-altitude balloons over Cuba.
The massive balloons, capable of hovering miles above the earth in international airspace, would act as cell towers, theoretically allowing Cubans to acquire enough internet connectivity to share videos and photos on social media.
Google shut down the internet balloon service, called Loon, in January, saying it wasn't commercially viable. But the crisis in Cuba may provide the perfect opportunity to put the project back into use.
“I would say the goal is not universal coverage with speeds that would allow you to download Netflix,” Carr noted. “The question is, how do we create the opportunity to continue to share videos and photos?”
Cubans protesting for freedom have reportedly had their internet access restricted in recent days by the communist regime as part of an effort to clamp down on the protests and hide the pro-democracy movement from the outside world.
Last week, as the protests spontaneously broke out, videos of the demonstrations were shared on social media under the hashtag #SOSCuba. But in the days since, the regime has appeared to close off access to popular platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, and Twitter.
National political figures, including Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have urged the Biden administration to support efforts to restore internet access to Cuba. They warned that without internet access, the Cuban people could “more easily be monitored, suppressed, detained, and brutalized by the regime without accountability.”
During a press conference Thursday, Biden said his administration is aware of the internet restrictions in Cuba and is “considering whether we have the technology to reinstate that [internet] access.”
Meanwhile, momentum has increased behind the push to use high-altitude balloons to do so. The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued in favor of the plan over the weekend, and numerous other outlets have reported on the possibility.
In addition to Project Loon, more than 1 million Cubans have already been granted access to the internet through censorship-circumvention software supported by the U.S., called Psiphon Inc.
View original post