Featured Image Source: nooksacktribe.org
SpaceX is working to connect rural communities to reliable satellite internet. The company’s Starlink satellite constellation will have over 12,000 satellites beaming internet communication to even the most remote places on the planet. So far, SpaceX has deployed around 1,385 satellites to low Earth orbit where each currently provide service to regions in northern United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand. By the end of 2021, SpaceX targets to provide near-global internet coverage. Rural and remote communities will benefit the most from the satellite service.
This week, Nooksack Indian Tribe representatives announced they partnered with SpaceX for rural access to the internet. The tribe resides in the northwest corner of Washington State, United States. It is comprised of approximately 2,000 members, who to this day follow their ancestors traditions and culture. Around 12 miles south of the Canadian border, in between a forest and mountains, the remote tribe lacks reliable access to internet connection. “SpaceX’s Starlink beta testing program aims to provide high-speed internet to remote locations such as Nooksack Tribal lands. Most rural Nooksack Tribal areas lack the infrastructure to provide fast internet. The Tribe has been searching for a reliable solution for the community to get online,” they said. “On March 24, 2021, the Nooksack Tribe hosted a Starlink demonstration installation with community partners also hoping to solve internet access issues across Whatcom County. Attendees included local school districts, Lummi Nation, Opportunity Council, Port of Bellingham, County Councilmember Rud Browne, Commissioner of Whatcom PUD Christine Grant, and County Executive Satpal Sidhu,” they shared in a press release. “A Starlink kit was successfully installed at one of Nooksack’s community buildings, and within minutes, attendees were able to connect to the internet at 190 Mbps [megabits per second].”
Leaders of the Nooksack Tribe have obtained 102 Starlink Kits to connect Tribal households and community buildings to SpaceX’s Starlink broadband internet. They will connect tribe members' households that do not have stable internet access. The Starlink Kit includes all the necessary equipment to receive signal from the satellites in space. Nooksack started to setup the Starlink network around the Tribal community this month. The Nooksack Tribal Council selected households that “were identified as the most needed Tribal areas because they were below the federal broadband minimum of 25 Mbps download speeds.” The “successfully installed Nooksack kits report download speeds between 80-140 Mbps,” they shared. The service will be free for one year, “After the first year of service, households will have the opportunity to assume liability of service and take over payments for $99/month. The Starlink kits will belong to the families at no additional cost,” Tribe Council representatives wrote in the press release.
Photo: Christine Grant, Commissioner of Whatcom PUD, and Daleno Cooper, Nooksack’s IT director, at the March 24th event. Lona Johnson, Tribal Councilmember, right in foreground. Source: nooksacktribe.org
Photo: Nooksack Tribal Chairman Ross Cline Sr. and Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu greet with the Starlink satellite in the foreground. Source: nooksacktribe.org
About the Author
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.