Elon Musk’s satellites send internet to remote Chilean village



After a 30-minute walk and a short boat ride to his school in a remote part of southern Chile, Diego Guerrero can finally connect to the internet.

His school is located in the small village of Sotomo, about 1,000 kilometers south of the capital Santiago. Only 20 families live there. The city is only accessible by boat.

Today it is one of two locations in Chile chosen for a new project to enjoy free internet access for one year. The project is led by billionaire Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX.

The waterways seen around the village of Sotomo, Chile, August 6, 2021. The village is only accessible by boat. (REUTERS / Pablo Sanhueza)

Starlink, which is part of SpaceX, aims to send 12,000 satellites as part of a network provide internet services worldwide,

The plan is important to getting the money SpaceX needs to pay for Musk’s dream of developing a new rocket capable of flying by paying people to the moon and trying to colonize Mars.

For Diego, 7, getting online is already a dream.

“I really like the Internet because we can do our homework,” he said. “It’s faster so we can do more.

Greater opportunities

Diego’s father Carlos has bigger plans for his son. He hopes that the new internet connection will provide his son with more Opportunities.

He takes Diego to school every day by boat, often battling against time. He said, “I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school, so you do it regardless of the conditions, rain or shine or pandemic, even if it’s difficult.

Carlos Guerrero, 40, teaches his son, Diego Guerrero, 7, math at his home in the village of Sotomo, outside the town of Cochamo, Los Lagos, Chile on August 7, 2021. Carlos hopes that the window to the world with the new Internet connection will give it more opportunities.  (REUTERS / Pablo Sanhueza)

Carlos Guerrero, 40, teaches his son, Diego Guerrero, 7, math at his home in the village of Sotomo, outside the town of Cochamo, Los Lagos, Chile on August 7, 2021. Carlos hopes that the window to the world with the new Internet connection will give it more opportunities. (REUTERS / Pablo Sanhueza)

All seven students at the school can connect online using personal devices provided by the Department of Education to facilitate their education.

Their only teacher at the school, Javier de la Barra, said he was eager to use the internet for his professional development.

The signal is received by a satellite plate above the school. Another device is broadcasting a wireless signal in most areas of the school and outside. It is planned to extend it to the rest of the village.

It only operates from noon to midnight due to the limited supply of fuel from the generator that powers the village.

De la Barra said it was still a big improvement in the phone internet connection that a few people in the area are using.

The Starlink antennas were placed in July. Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Gloria Hutt attended the launch ceremony.

She said she hoped Starlink would help those who have lived without the Internet. The difficulty of living now without an internet connection became evident when coronavirus lockdowns left people without a good internet connection who find it difficult to work or study.

Chile has one of the highest internet connectivity rates in South America. Government figures show that there are 21 million mobile Internet connections among its population of 19 million as of March 2021.

As Diego and Carlos know, having mobile internet doesn’t mean you can always receive a signal.

Carlos Guerrero said: “What would be great is if all of these services could be extended to our community, not just a small part, so that everyone can benefit”.

I am Grégory Stachel.

Pablo Sanhueza reported this story to Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in this story

networkm. a system of computers and other devices (such as printers) that are connected to each other

opportunitym. a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something

pandemicm. an event in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a large area or around the world

platem. something shaped like a shallow bowl

Generatorm. a machine that produces electricity

mobileadj. can be moved from one place to another


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