Apple unlocked a secret iPhone feature to give hurricane-hit Puerto Rico cellular service

After Google went the extra mile to launch its Project Loon in Puerto Rico to help the hurricane-hit US territory get access to the Internet, now Apple has also stepped up and unlocked LTE band 8 that Project Loon uses to give the people of Puerto Rico cellular service while the infrastructure there is being re-built.

This shows how in times of trouble we get together to overcome adversity: in this case, Apple, AT&T, the FCC and Alphabet’s X division have all contributed towards the faster recovery of cellular service in Puerto Rico.

What Apple did was enable a provisional band of 4G LTE that has only recently been approved, but is not active in the US and Puerto Rico, where it has not yet been licensed. After enabling LTE band 8, iPhones will be able to connect to Project Loon balloons activated in the region on October 20th.

This will help users send text messages and see potentially critical information. To benefit from these new iPhone capabilities, users will be prompted to download new carrier settings this week. All iPhones from the iPhone 5c and later, and running at least iOS 10 are compatible.

Band 8 itself operates at the 900MHz frequency and stands out with great range of the service.

Here is Apple's official statement:

To activate the new carrier settings, go to Settings - General - About on your iPhone. You will need to have a connection to grab the file, but once installed, your iPhone will already automatically be able to connect to Band 8 LTE.

source: TechCrunch



1. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

And why did they disable it in the first place? It should be enabled out-of-box. US version of S8 and S8+ have band 8 unlocked It's google's project Loon that give cellular service to Puerto Rico, and apple actually prevent them by disabling that band, and now apple get the credit just because the finally enable it

2. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Both - Google and Apple, just shows how many things we do not know about opur phones. How many things they do without even we know that they exist? They unlock or lock whatever they want without asking you, me or anybody. They are above the low. Like internet sites with cookies - tkae what they want, or do not work properly. I'm so glad that EU at least remove that... Waiting to disable Google and Apple... but will never happend.

14. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1354; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Band 8 has not yet been licensed so what's the point of enabling it if phones aren't allowed to use it by the FCC?

3. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Did you even read the article? What Apple did was enable a provisional band of 4G LTE that has only recently been approved, but is not active in the US and Puerto Rico, where it has not yet been licensed. The LTE 8 band wasn't in use nor approved so there was no point in enabling them. That other manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, do support band 8 is great, but useless until now.

10. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

It's a character flaw for those who are overly paranoid over governments or corporations to only acknowledge only bits and pieces of news that only feed their paranoia. Had they fully read and understood the information already provided in the article then they would not have asked such a stupid question.

4. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

if the bands aren't licensed yet what would be the point in having them tuned on out of box? Not even samsung has all the bands that the is S8 capable of connecting to tuned on out of the box. The only thing that matters is that they get turned on when you need them.

5. jove39

Posts: 2149; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Did Apple brought project loon balloons as well?

6. Dingy_cellar_dweller

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Moto's have band(8) activated and a FM radio to boot.

11. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Some Moto phones do, at least with the FM radio, the G5 Plus does, the X4 does not. It would be awesome if all phones would adopt this basic feature as it could be crucial in situations like what's happening in Puerto Rico right now.

7. SuperAndroid507

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

Just wondering, if there are no connections, how are they going to download the required settings ?

8. tgom222

Posts: 35; Member since: Jul 08, 2012

That's what I thought when I read the article. How are people getting this update?

12. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

You can thank Google and Project Loon for that... I assume.

9. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Kudos to all these companies. This is how tech should be used.

13. Scott93274

Posts: 6042; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I am curious how much of an impact this will actually have. I mean, I imagine that the equipment implemented into Project Loon would already incorporate all the bands that are native to that region thus making a new band unnecessary. I mean, it's not like there are phones on the island that run off that newly implemented band exclusively, maybe it simply has extended range over other bands... I don't know.

15. miketer

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

One for all, all for one.

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