Arizona's Coconino County equips School Buses with SpaceX Starlink Internet, enabling students to do homework en route

Arizona's Coconino County equips School Buses with SpaceX Starlink Internet, enabling students to do homework en route

Coconino County's determination to leave no student behind has ushered in a new era of connectivity in Arizona, making the Internet a powerful vehicle for learning, growth, and success. With the help of SpaceX's Starlink, students in the rural county can now ride the information superhighway, even when they're on the move. Coconino County has stepped up its efforts to connect students across Northern Arizona, including remote tribal communities. Now, they are taking this initiative on the road, quite literally, by installing SpaceX's cutting-edge Starlink high-speed internet on school buses. 

Coconino County joined forces with the Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) and Page Unified School District (PUSD) to identify bus routes that cater to students enduring more than an hour-long commute each way. Coconino County received two Flat High Performance Starlink antennas that were promptly installed on the buses, transforming them into mobile connectivity hubs. Now, students can make the most of their travel time, staying connected and completing homework en route. “School buses in  Coconino County, Arizona are among the first to use Starlink mobility so students who ride the bus an hour to and from school each day can stay connected and complete their homework,” announced the SpaceX Starlink division. 

Northern Arizona has many remote regions, including mountainous zones where terrestrial internet infrastructures are difficult to build due to geography and distance from populated areas. Starlink makes connecting these communities very easy because SpaceX's thousands of satellites in orbit directly beam internet to user terminal antennas that only require an electricity source to function. “The chance to deploy groundbreaking technology to connect underserved rural communities is a remarkable achievement,” said District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler. “The collaboration between SpaceX and Coconino County exemplifies what can be accomplished when the right people come together at the right time. We are immensely grateful to our partners for the opportunities they have unlocked, bringing enhanced connectivity to our most underserved communities.”

The partnership between Coconino County and SpaceX began to take shape in 2019 when Lena Fowler and Coconino County's Chief Information Officer, Matt Fowler, met with the visionary company. Their efforts paid off, securing a private donation that enabled the county to leverage Starlink and provide high-speed internet access to rural areas of Northern Arizona. 

In May 2021, Coconino County started a Starlink internet trial involving 45 households. Shortly after, the county identified K-12 students residing on the Navajo Nation reservation, grappling with limited or no internet access, with speeds as slow as a snail's pace—less than 5 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Eager to bridge the digital divide, the County's Information Technology Department worked to identify eligible students living on the reservation. To date, they have installed over 300 locations with Starlink internet services, all generously funded by private donations, ensuring free access for a period of 2 years. This groundbreaking initiative empowers students to connect with educational resources.

"This remarkable journey would not have been possible without the unwavering teamwork of SpaceX, County Management, our Board of Supervisors, FUSD, and PUSD. We heavily rely on our public and private partners to bring internet connectivity to historically underserved areas. This is undeniably an exhilarating moment," said CIO Matt Fowler in a press release. Echoing his sentiment, Deputy CIO Helen Costello added, "We are incredibly fortunate to have outstanding community partners, and embracing new technologies has had a transformative impact on students in our region."

》 Author's note: My work is possible Thanks to everyone who reads and purchases products from the SHOP. Write your thoughts in the comment section below. If you have any story suggestions or feedback, feel free to Direct Message me on Twitter: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo @JaneidyEve Read my most recent stories here: Recent News Stories 《 

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About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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