Peurto Rico is still suffering in the wake of horrific hurricane damage and communication services remain down for a huge number of people on the island. Apple and AT&T are hoping to help by making Band 8 AT&T available through a special carrier update.

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

Because LTE is not licensed on Band 8, many phones have not yet been equipped for use with it, though some newer radios are able to connect to it and use it. Apple devices from the iPhone 5c and up and running iOS 10 or higher can download a carrier setting and begin using it right away.

LTE Band 8 is a 900Mhz band, which means that it has much improved range over lower frequency bands. This will help devices reach further cell towers, distribute the load among those now accessible towers and penetrate buildings and other obstructions better.

Apple told Techcrunch the following:

"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."

The carrier update should become available to AT&T iPhone users in Puerto Rico this week.

Good on Apple. Good on AT&T. And Good on Alphabet and Google for deploying the "Loon Balloons" that, with so many cell towers down, will aid in making these connections possible.

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other areas still require massive amounts of money, time, and resources to rebuild, so if you're continuing to give and help in every way you can, good on you as well.

We're all in this together.

Updated to include a mention of Alphabet and Google's Loon Baloon project and the connectivity it's enabling in an area where it's so desperately needed.

iPhone X + iPhone 8

Main