A Native American tribe in Washington State has just gotten a major upgrade to the Internet, gaining early access to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet.
“It seemed like out of nowhere, SpaceX just appeared and catapulted us into the 21st century,” Melvinjohn Ashue, vice president of the Hoh tribe, said in a video released by the Washington State Department of Commerce. “For the past eight years, I feel like I’ve been paddling on the river with a spoon and I’ve almost never gotten anywhere with internet access so far,” Ashue added.
But now that the tribe has been connected to broadband internet, “our children can participate in distance learning, residents can access healthcare,” reads a tweet of the tribe. “SpaceX Starlink made this happen overnight.”
“With great pleasure!” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter in response to the Washington community
What a difference high-speed internet can make! Our children can participate in remote learning, residents can access #healthcare. We felt like we’d been paddling up-river with a spoon on this. @SpaceX Starlink made it happen overnight. Thanks @WAStateCommerce for introduction.
— Hoh Tribe (@TribeHoh) October 7, 2020
It’s not clear how fast the Hoh tribe has access to the network, but SpaceX said it should be about as fast as your average internet connection.
Last month, SpaceX connected Washington State’s emergency services to the Internet, bringing much-needed Internet service to fire-affected regions. “Starlink easily doubles bandwidth,” compared to other satellite internet connections, it said Monday for CNBC the leader in emergency telecommunications in the IT division of the Washington State Military Department.
To date, SpaceX has sent over 700 small satellites into orbit to build its global broadband network. Also last week, Musk confirmed that once the latest batch of 60 satellites “reaches its target position, we will be able to launch a fairly wide public beta in the northern United States and hopefully in southern Canada.”