Residents of Washington state have escaped from the wilderness online thanks to SpaceX’s satellite broadband network.
The company’s Starlink system is supplying emergency internet to residents in Malden, a city of about 200 people, where about 80 percent of the homes have been destroyed by wildfires.
On Monday, Washington’s Department of Emergency Management tweeted an image of a Starlink satellite terminal acting as a public Wi-Fi hotspot. “Malden, WA is an area where fiber and most of the city are ablaze. Without this device, it would have been very difficult for people to get internet in that area, ”the department The couple In a follow-up tweet.
The state’s Department of Emergency Management told PCCAG, “SpaceX provided our agency with seven terminals to use for free, where we were most needed.” Other Starlink terminals are supplying emergency broadband around Bonney Lake, Washington, where some local residents were also forced to evacuate due to wild animals.
“The terminals are being used for free public Wi-Fi, but we also used them for vehicles with the Bonney Lake, WA wildfire incident,” the department said. “SpaceX has not given us a timetable on whether they need the equipment back. They have been very generous. ”
The department declined to answer questions about speed and latency rates for emergency internet, and instead asked PCMag to ask SpaceX. But according to CNBC, the latency rate has reached about 30 milliseconds, which is equivalent to land-based Internet.
“I have never installed any type of tactical satellite device that is quick to install and reliable anywhere,” Richard Hall, head of the Washington State Military Department, told ITBC in an interview.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But CEO Elon Musk responded to Washington’s Department of Emergency Management Tweet: “Glad SpaceX can help! We are prioritizing emergency responders and locations with no Internet connectivity.
Earlier this month, SpaceX revealed that Starlink is currently capable of delivering 100Mbps download speeds using about 700 satellites. However, the company plans to achieve 1Gbps internet speed in a day, allowing thousands more satellites to be launched into space, with the goal of supplying fast broadband worldwide.
Meanwhile, the company is preparing to launch a public beta for Starlink for residents of North America and Canada later this year. SpaceX then plans to expand coverage to most parts of the world sometime in 2021. However, one of the current challenges facing the company is timely launching satellites to power the broadband system. On Monday, SpaceX had to delay sending another batch of 60 satellites due to inclement weather.