SpaceX selected Chile as the first Latin American country to test Starlink internet service in rural communities. This morning (*July 5), the Subsecretariat of Telecommunications (SUBTEL) of Chile announced in a Spanish press release that it granted SpaceX an experimental permit for non-commercial use of the broadband service. SUBTEL and the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT) coordinated a pilot program with SpaceX to provide free Starlink satellite internet connection to rural and isolated communities in Chile.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told SUBTEL representatives that “Starlink was designed for remote communities such as Caleta Sierra (Coquimbo Region) and Sotomó (Los Lagos Region).” Shotwell says that Starlink “high-speed connectivity can have a transformative impact on these communities and we are eager to support these pilot programs, starting with local schools.” Besides those two locations in Chile, SUBTEL and SpaceX also have plans to connect more remote regions in the country and eventually the entire nation.
SpaceX already delivered Starlink Kits to local representatives in Caleta Sierra and Sotomo. The Kits include a phased-array dish antenna to connect to the internet-beaming Starlink satellites in orbit, Wi-Fi router device, power and mounting equipment that is easy to install. The company collaborated with the government to provide free broadband internet service for one year, the Chilean municipalities agreed to cover the cost after the test period is over. “Closing the digital divide in Chile requires innovation and that implies that we open ourselves to the implementation of new technologies that complement those already present in the country, such as fiber optic and 5G networks,” said the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Gloria Hutt. “Sometimes our geography makes the deployment of traditional broadband networks complex. For this reason, we are proud that the Starlink company has chosen Chile as a pioneer country in Latin America to start the deployment of its satellite internet project, providing capacity and high-speed connectivity to two locations in the country,” she said.
The Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Francisco Moreno, said that “[…] Starlink services is a concrete alternative to improve the quality of life of thousands of compatriots who live in extreme and / or rural locations. of the country, which do not have the opportunity to access a quality internet.”
The Undersecretary of Economy, Julio Pertuze, said that bringing SpaceX Starlink service to Chile “[…] is a fundamental step so that each town and each community in our country has the possibility of connecting with the rest of the world. When we talk about the post-pandemic future, we cannot project it without cross-cutting connectivity that allows both productive sectors and citizens to develop wherever they are,” they stated. [Author’s Note: All quotes in this article were translated to English from an original Spanish language press release.]
*Edit in the first paragraph: month was corrected to July 5.
Featured Image Source: NASA [This photograph was captured by NASA Astronauts in January 26, 2019, it shows South America from bottom to top looks from the northeast coast of Argentina to southwest across Chile, the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The International Space Station was orbiting 259 miles above the Atlantic coast of the South American continent.]