SpaceX Launches Starlink Internet Pilot in Chile

SpaceX’s Starlink internet service has officially launched in Chile, with a ‘Better Than Nothing Beta’ pilot program in Sotomó, a hamlet located 1,000 km (620 miles) south of the capital Santiago in the Los Lagos region — reports Market Screener.

Starlink is a high-speed satellite broadband service designed specifically to close the digital divide across the world by supplying stable, fast internet to remote locations — and a remote fishing settlement inhabited by just 20 families and only accessible by boat certainly fits the bill.

The pilot program will provide Sotomó with free internet for a year. Starlink’s high-speed internet is currently only available at the John F Kennedy School located within the settlement, but SpaceX plans on expanding access to the rest of the hamlet soon.

Diego, aged 7, and the other six students at the school can now use tablets (provided by the education ministry) to enhance their learning experience, access online learning material, watch films, do virtual museum visits, and even video call children in other schools.

Starlink’s impressive speed means that the school’s only teacher, Javier de la Barra, can pursue professional development, and the residents of the hamlet, who have so far made a living by catching mussels and fish to sell at the market located a five-hour round-trip by boat away, can learn skills, chase employment opportunities, and possibly even start their own businesses.

The Starlink equipment at Sotomó was installed in July, and the service went live earlier this month in a ceremony attended by Transport and Telecommunications Minister Gloria Hutt.

SpaceX is also working on launching a similar project in Caleta Sierra, a small fishing port close to the arid northern deserts of Chile. “Starlink was designed for remote communities such as Caleta Sierra and Sotomó,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell during the original announcement back in July.

As of earlier this month, Starlink has over 90,000 users in over 12 countries, and ambitious plans to expand.