SpaceX aims to close the digital divide by connecting the world to the internet through the Starlink broadband satellite constellation that consists of launching at least 12,000 internet-beaming satellites to Low Earth Orbit. The company has launched approximately 2,500 satellites since 2019.
The United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly declared internet access a human right in 2016. This declaration is formed on the basis that having access to the internet gives individuals the freedom to exercise fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and access to vital information. The U.N. states that countries have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available, and that no government should unreasonably restrict an individual's access to the Internet.
According to a 2021 estimate from the U.N., around 2.9 billion people globally have never had access to the Internet -- that is 37% of the entire world's population. Most live in developing countries where internet infrastructures are hard and expensive to build. These regions tend to be impoverished communities located in remote/rural areas where it affects childrens' ability to get an education. Having internet access gives individuals the ability to access educational information and more job opportunities to improve their lives. The internet has become a vital utility, besides access to knowledge it can provide families with direct access to online healthcare with a single click.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk believes in the importance of expanding internet access because it has potential to improve lives. "One Starlink [user terminal] can provide Internet for an entire school of hundreds of students," he shared on May 28, "Great potential to lift people out of poverty. Providing Internet is teaching people to fish," said Musk via Twitter. Starlink is a game-changer because the Starlink user terminal is easy to set up by simply connecting it to an electricity source and pointing it at the sky, enabling quick access to high-speed internet in just a few minutes without the need for a professional technician. The easy installation process enables a more affordable option for governments and schools to expand internet access, compared to having to build expensive fiber-optic cable infrastructures.
Great potential to lift people out of poverty. Providing Internet is teaching people to fish.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2022
SpaceX already provides internet access to hard-to-reach regions across 36 countries, including schools in rural communities. "Starlink enables access to essential online services and resources for rural communities that have historically gone unserved by traditional internet service providers," said SpaceX. "With Starlink, virtual doctor visits and remote learning are now possible for rural communities and students across the globe, including the Ector County Independent School District in Texas, the Wise County Public School District in Virginia, the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, Navajo Nation student homes in Arizona, First Nation homes and schools in rural Ontario and Manitoba, Canada, and remote schools in Sotomó and Calete Sierra, Chile, among many others," the company shared on its website. Visit SpaceX's official website Starlink.com for more information.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX