Featured Image Source: WJHL News Channel 11 via YouTube
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak that forced schools to close last year, teachers realized many students do not have reliable internet at home to participate in online learning. The Wise County School District, located in a rural region in the U.S. state of Virginia, did a survey within their community that showed nearly 30% did not have internet service at home and 40% of students did not have access to reliable, high-speed connection. The school district is now collaborating with the U.S. government and SpaceX to provide free satellite internet to the rural community and schools.
Wise County is the first school district in Virginia to utilize SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet constellation to connect Wise County students with high-speed, low latency broadband. A total of 45 households were connected to SpaceX Starlink earlier this year. As SpaceX deploys more internet-beaming satellites to orbit, the network's capabilities will improve to provide service to an additional 90 Wise County families. All families will have free internet for one year. After the period, families may get to keep the Starlink dish that costs $499 USD if they would like to continue the $99 USD per month service.
This week, WJHL News Channel 11, a local news station, reported that West County Virginia leaders now seek to expand the successful Starlink test program to cover a total of 3,000 students. County officials, including congressman Rep. Morgan Griffith, held a meeting with Wise County School District leaders to discuss how the Starlink network has been helpful for the past three months. “I recognize this as a great technology that can bring broadband into areas that are underserved or unserved,” Griffith told reporters, video below. The district will soon connect 500 more students living in nearby counties, according to the report. The Appalachian Council For Innovation along with city and school officials are working to additionally fund connecting even more students to Starlink by raising money through public-private partnerships. “As we march forward and more constellations go up, more and more people will be served,” Donald Purdie, Appalachian Council of Innovation representative said, “And we are hoping […] to achieve at least 3,000 students served by this time next year. We feel like we are on track to do that,” he said. Watch the full news story in the video linked below.
Featured Image Source: WJHL News via YouTube
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.