SpaceX is launching Starlink satellites to provide low-latency, high-speed broadband internet service worldwide. With approximately 960 Starlink satellites already operating in low Earth orbit, SpaceX started to offer Starlink beta service in areas located at high-latitudes, including northern United States, Canada, and United Kingdom.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak that forced schools to close, 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 area in the U.S. state of Virginia, did a survey within their community that showed 40% of students do not have access to internet at home. The school district is now collaborating with the U.S. government and SpaceX to provide satellite internet to the rural community. “A national call is being made for federal action to end the digital divide. Our state and national leaders like U.S. Senator Mark Warner have taken up the torch to push for ubiquitous broadband internet for all, using Wise County as a case study. This project with SpaceX is bringing together a unique combination of partners," the school district announced in December.
“Wise County Public Schools, in collaboration with the Wise County Board of Supervisors, is proud to launch an innovative new project with SpaceX to expand internet access in Wise County. 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 school district representative wrote in a press release. SpaceX will provide free Starlink internet to the school district, as well as 45 student households in the area. 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. The school district identified the students' families who do not have access to reliable internet at home.
To receive internet connection from the satellites in space they will receive SpaceX’s Starlink Kits that include a phased-array antenna dish, Wi-Fi router, and mounting equipment that is easy to install. The school announced via Facebook that SpaceX delivered the Starlink Kits over the weekend and that they completed the first installation. – “We are very pleased with the ease of setup and performance of the system. We will be working diligently in the next couple of weeks to have all 45 homes connected!” a school representative shared in the Facebook post alongside two photographs of the Starlink Kits and dish, shown below.
We received our Starlink Installation Kits from SpaceX and completed our first install. We are very pleased with the...Posted by Wise County Public Schools on Sunday, January 10, 2021
“This innovative partnership represents the opportunity for our county to provide internet access to the unserved or underserved families in our county and is unprecedented action for our school district and our community,” Wise County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Mullins said in a statement released by the school district last month, “The Covid-19 pandemic created a situation in which our district had to quickly pivot to virtual instruction last March and it was apparent that the lack of broadband access is a crisis in Wise County. With SpaceX, Wise County Administrator, Mr. Mike Hatfield, and the Wise County Board of Supervisors, we are providing space-based internet service to students and families that have few, if any, options. We are appreciative of Mr. Jack Kennedy who worked closely with Senator Mark Warner’s office to pull all of the pieces together and will allow us share our goal for providing equity and access for all students. Today, we are moving closer in closing the digital divide that exists within our community,” he stated.
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.