The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced on May 13 that it will initiate a pilot program to connect a rural community in Eau Claire County to SpaceX’s Starlink broadband internet service. The constellation of approximately 1,677 satellites in low Earth orbit has the capability of delivering high-speed internet to rural regions where service is limited or not accessible. The pilot program will provide high-speed internet to 50 rural homes and businesses in Eau Clair County.
At a press conference on Thursday Governor Tony Evers announced that the WEDC will contribute $27,500 USD to the Starlink pilot program. Overall, the initiative has raised $87,500 USD in partnership with a collection of healthcare providers including Marshfield Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Hospital Sisters Health System. Chippewa Valley Technical College and PESI Online Learning also helped fund the initiative. All 50 households and businesses will receive free SpaceX Starlink equipment and a year’s worth of service. “We know that having access to reliable, affordable internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Governor Evers said in a press release. “Making sure that every Wisconsinite has access to this vital service is going to require creativity and innovation, and that’s the kind of approach WEDC’s investment in Starlink demonstrates.”
Currently, SpaceX’s Starlink Kit to connect to the network costs $499 USD, the kit includes a technologically advanced phased-array dish antenna, Wi-Fi router, mounting and power equipment. The monthly service fee is $99 USD for high speed internet. The pilot program is also meant to assess Starlink’s performance in rural Wisconsin. The Governor’s Office said that users will assess the service throughout the year by accessing healthcare and attending online classes. “The pandemic has demonstrated that reliable, high-speed internet access is essential today for work, for school and to access healthcare,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “Getting broadband out to everyone in this state isn’t a moon shot, but it will require a variety of creative, innovative approaches because there’s no one one-size-fits-all solution.”
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
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.