SpaceX’s upcoming satellite internet service can indeed supply fast internet to remote areas, according to a Native American tribe in Washington state.
On Wednesday, the Hoh tribe tweeted that SpaceX’s Starlink network has been supplying fast broadband to local residents in the area. “Our children can participate in remote learning, residents can access healthcare,” the tribe said. “SpaceX Starlink made it happen overnight.”
The tribe is based on the state’s coast, about a three to four hour drive west of Seattle. Residents typically only get internet speeds at an astonishing slow 0.3 to 0.7Mbps, the tribe said in a follow-up tweet.
The Washington State Department of Commerce also published a video documenting how Starlink has boosted the tribe’s internet speeds.
“The last eight years I feel like we have been paddling up river with a spoon, and almost getting nowhere with getting internet to the reservation,” Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the Hoh Tribe, said in the video.
Knowing the problems, the department introduced SpaceX’s Starlink team to the tribe, which prompted the company to provide early access to the satellite network. “It seemed like out of nowhere SpaceX just came up and catapulted us into the 21st century,” Ashue said of the speed increase.
The tribe hasn’t said how fast the Starlink internet speeds have been for the reservation. But SpaceX says the satellite network is currently capable of delivering 100Mbps download speeds at a latency below 30 milliseconds, which is on par with ground-based internet.
For now, Starlink remains unavailable to the public. But on Monday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company plans to kick off beta trials soon for residents based in the northern US and possibly southern Canada. You can currently sign up for email updates from SpaceX to learn about beta availability.
Starlink currently operates over 700 satellites in low orbit around the planet, largely across the higher longitudes. But the company’s goal is to launch thousands of satellites, enabling Starlink to offer 1Gbps internet speeds to most places across the planet.