The Frontier School Division in northern Manitoba, Canada is planning to bring SpaceX’s Starlink internet to three-quarters of its 40 schools — reports the Winnipeg Free Press.
Starlink is a high-speed broadband service that aims to deliver reliable internet anywhere in the world using a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit.
Frontier deployed its first Starlink connection last year. The pilot was a resounding success, and 16 of the division’s schools have internet access via Starlink today.
Schools in the division with Starlink dishes installed on campus saw download speeds of around 150 Mbps in the past year, as opposed to 1-4 Mbps on other connections previously. The state of internet availability and speeds is pretty dire in rural Canada, but Starlink remedies the situation to an unparalleled degree.
“It creates a level of digital literacy that we didn’t have before. It opens up the door for learning and teaching strategies that we didn’t have access to before, and it allows for a different way of communicating,” said Frontier School Division chief superintendent Reg Klassen. “What it really means is that our schools are a lot less isolated.”
Frontier is the largest geographical school division in Manitoba with about 6,700 students. Its leaders are now looking to terminate their contracts with Xplornet and switch to Starlink for most of their schools.
“It changes a whole lot. It allows us to get closer to what’s happening in southern Manitoba or even Winnipeg in schools, in terms of the internet. It doesn’t put us there, but it allows us to move closer,” Klassen added.
Starlink has made it possible for teachers in rural Manitoba to supplement their classes with educational videos, assign online research tasks that students can complete in real-time, and carry out administrative tasks like sharing daily attendance data with a division office without a hitch.
Klassen also said that the switch allows them to conduct division-wide meetings remotely over video and makes it possible for educators to engage in professional development without having to travel anywhere.
Starlink goes toe-to-toe with Canadian internet providers even in urban areas, making it an absolute blessing for rural areas. The service has been heavily praised by rural Canadians in the past.
According to a recent report, the Canadian government is also investing $1 million CAD to provide Starlink internet to 1,162 individual households in Manitoba.
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