A remote Native American tribe is among the first users of Elon Musk’s Starlink space internet project after it connected to SpaceX’s constellation of satellites.
The Hoh Tribe in Washington State said Starlink’s high-speed broadband enabled remote learning and telehealth appointments during the coronavirus pandemic for the first time.
“We’re very remote. The last eight years I felt like we’ve been paddling up river with a spoon and almost getting nowhere with getting internet to the reservation,” said Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the Hoh Tribe.
“It seemed like out of nowhere, SpaceX came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century.”
There are currently around 800 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit, offering internet connectivity to northern areas of the US and Canada. SpaceX eventually plans to launch tens of thousands more satellites to provide “near global coverage of the populated world by 2021”.
The Hoh Tribe were introduced to Starlink through the Washington State Department of Commerce, which sits within the current reach of the Starlink network.
It is one of several early testers of Starlink , with emergency responders in Washington State also recently using the network to set up a WiFi hotspot for residents of Malden after 80 per cent of the town was destroyed by wildfires.
The Hoh Tribe revealed that internet speeds prior to Starlink ranged from between 0.3 and 0.7 megabits per second (Mbps) – a long way off the 100Mbps advertised by SpaceX.
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
Responding to a tweet from the