To help close the digital divide, SpaceX will offer satellite Internet to the education sector.
The company’s StarLink satellite Internet service is partnering with a school district in Texas in early 2021 to supply free broadband to dozens of families living in the surrounding rural area. This is the first time SpaceX has worked with the school district, which is using StarLink, for the Ector County Independent School District, which announced the partnership on Tuesday.
The school district plans to supply the first high-speed Internet to 45 families, who live in rural idyllic farms before spreading it to 90 families. According to local media outlet Odessa America, the project would cost $ 300,000, with half of the funding from the heads of the education advocates group coming in for the change.
“Our research clearly indicates that lack of broadband access is a crisis in Actor County,” Superintendent of School District Scott Murry said in a statement.
Broadband access is required to enable online learning during the district-COVID-19 epidemic located west of Dallas, Texas, which has caused schools across the country to close or cap the number of students in physical classrooms. According to the district’s own survey, 39 percent of households have limited or no Internet access.
SpaceX’s Starlink is promising to fill the gap. The company’s system is currently capable of delivering 100Mbps download speeds at a latency of about 30 milli-seconds, which is comparable to ground-based Internet.
Interestingly, SpaceX is bringing satellite Internet to the US state of Texas at low latitudes. Currently, the company is promising to launch a public beta for Starlink soon, but in high latitudes for locations in North America and Southern Canada.
However, in early 2021, SpaceX hopes to launch additional satellites in orbit to power the Starlink network, allowing it to improve broadband coverage. To date, Starlink operates more than 800 satellites, but the target is eventually thousands more in orbit. The company plans to introduce a worldwide satellite Internet system for consumers next year, although the cost at this point remains unknown.
Nevertheless, the Actor County Independent School District hopes Starlink will prove to be a “permanent solution”, capable of addressing broadband woes across the state.