The Wise County School District, located in a rural region in the U.S. state of Virginia, received a $232,500 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) to connect underserved student homes to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet. The grant funds will be used to purchase Starlink hardware and for 2-year subscriptions for 94 student residences in rural communities where internet access is unreliable or completely unavailable.
“This grant will primarily provide enhanced educational opportunities, but will also allow for health treatment expansion including improved telemedicine and enhanced workforce education and remote worker opportunities. Data shows students with high-speed broadband perform at one-half letter grade better than those without and we are proud to work alongside Wise County Public Schools in these efforts,” said Wise County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Brian Falin to Johnson City Press.
Under the project, a total of 438 students will receive Starlink Satellite Internet service access with additional leveraged funding of $155,000 provided by Wise County. “VCEDA was appropriated $500,000 in the Virginia state budget for FY2023 and $500,000 in FY2024 for initiatives intended to expand education and telehealth access,” said Belcher in a statement to Cardinal News. “Previously, in FY2022, VCEDA also received $500,000 for this purpose and developed the VCEDA Education and Telehealth Access fund to administer the funds being received from the state.”
A portion of the state funding also went to the Appalachian Council for Innovation (ACI) for its project to provide satellite internet access to students living in more underserved communities. A total of 719 children living across four counties in Virginia are already being provided access to Starlink in various school districts. Starlink is ideal for rural and remote communities because the hardware is easy to install and requires no complex installation compared to fiber-optic infrastructures. The Starlink hardware consists of a pizza-sized phased array antennas and a Wi-Fi router device go access the internet wirelessly. SpaceX's satellites in Low Earth Orbit directly beam data to the user antennas. As of today, SpaceX operates approximately 3,300 satellites. Visit Starlink.com for more information.
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