Apple and AT&T have been working together to improve cellular connectivity for iPhone users in Puerto Rico who have been largely without cellular service since Hurricane Maria hit a month ago.
The two companies are enabling LTE Band 8, a provisional LTE band that’s been approved but not activated or licensed in the United States or Puerto Rico, reports TechCrunch.
LTE Band 8 will work with the iPhone 5c and up on iOS 10 or higher in Puerto Rico following a carrier update. Band 8 is a 900Mhz band with improved range to better reach cell towers that are located further away.”We are working with AT&T to activate cellular service for iPhone users in Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria,” read an Apple statement. “Apple engineers have created a special carrier settings update which users connected to Wi-Fi or who are connected to a cellular network will automatically be prompted to download throughout the week. The update allows iPhone customers with iPhone 5c and later models running iOS 10 or higher, to connect to a provisional band on the AT&T network so they can be in touch with loved ones and get services in this time of need.”iPhone owners in Puerto Rico will need to go to Settings –> General –> About when connected to Wi-Fi or cellular to download the carrier update.
Once the new carrier data has been installed, iPhones will be able to use Band 8 where available to connect to cellular towers and Project Loon balloons being deployed by Google to improve cellular service in Puerto Rico.
Project Loon balloons support basic communication and internet activities for sending text messaging and accessing information online over LTE.
Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria on September 20, much of Puerto Rico continues to be without power, and millions are also without running water. Many areas are also without cellular service and Wi-Fi connectivity with up to 75 percent of antennas currently down, making it difficult for families to stay in touch.
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