A Prayer Answered: SpaceX to Expand Internet Coverage in Rural Alaska With FCC Approval
April 30, 2021
"I have really slow internet at my house," Alaska Native Iñupiaq seventh grader, Kaden Kulukhon, wrote in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Kulukhon was among a handful of middle schoolers and educators beseeching the FCC to approve a licensing modification to send satellites into polar orbit, effectively offering remote Alaskan villages access to broadband internet. "All the people in my house use the internet. When COVID hit all the websites that I used at school could not load at my house," he wrote. "Even at our school some websites won't load properly and we consider the school internet 'fast.'"
Since 2019, business magnate and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sought FCC approval for SpaceX Starlink, the upcoming satellite-beaming internet service, to offer high-speed internet to remote tribal areas in the U.S., where broadband is notoriously spotty, throttled and expensive.
The satellites will beam high-speed broadband connectivity to remote areas through a one-time purchase of Starlink's self-installing equipment, including a dish receiver to fit on a user's roof. In early January, the FCC approved the launch of 10 satellites to travel into polar orbit, covering Alaskan communities along the Arctic Circle for the first time ever.