(Credit: Ector County Independent School District)
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To help close the digital divide, SpaceX will offer satellite internet to the education sector.
The company’s Starlink satellite internet service is partnering with a school district in Texas to supply free broadband to dozens of families living in the surrounding rural area, starting in early 2021. It’s the first time SpaceX has worked with a school district to harness Starlink, according to the Ector County Independent School District, which announced the partnership on Tuesday.
The school district plans on first supplying the high-speed internet to 45 families who live in rural Pleasant Farms, before expanding it to 90 families. According to local media outlet Odessa America, the project will cost $300,000, with half of the funds coming from education advocacy group Chiefs for Change.
“Our research clearly indicates the lack of broadband access is a crisis in Ector County,” said Scott Muri, the
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As SpaceX prepares to supply satellite broadband to consumers, the company is also looking to apply the same technology to Microsoft’s remote data centers.
On Tuesday, the two companies announced that SpaceX’s Starlink system will provide satellite internet to Microsoft’s Azure modular data centers, which can operate in areas far away from ground-based fiber internet cables.
In a video, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said the two companies will be “co-selling” the Starlink connectivity to enterprise customers. “So Starlink brings point-to-point communication from anywhere on Earth,” she added. “So leveraging that along with Azure I think is really an incredibly robust capability for our customers.”
The modular data centers are targeting both the public and private sector. For example, the units can be deployed as “mobile command centers” for missions involving defense, humanitarian efforts, and mineral exploration, Microsoft said.
“The unit can operate in a
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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has confirmed one more scenario where Starlink could be used to deliver its satellite broadband other than homes: on high-speed trains across the globe.
Sweden-based data scientist Anton Kanerva asked Musk via Twitter whether Starlink satellite dishes could be fitted to high-speed trains to deliver reliable broadband in remote areas.
It’s a relevant question for Sweden, which has train connections between most major cities but vast tracts between them where mobile coverage is spotty. Indeed, it’s a relevant question for many of Europe’s intercity rail networks and rail networks across North America.
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“Will Starlink dishes be deployable on high-speed moving objects like trains?” Kanerva asked Musk on Twitter. “It would be incredible if trains moving through the middle of nowhere finally could have stable high-speed internet connections.”
Starlink for rail networks would be no problem, according to Musk. “Yes.