SpaceX could bring internet access to rural America


INDIANTOWN, FL (NewsNation Now) — Internet access is often taken for granted. But for people who live in small towns and farming communities across the country getting online takes a lot longer.

David Hafner lives in rural Indiantown, Florida, which is about 40 miles from West Palm Beach.

“The internet situation is not great,” said Hafner. “The main options we have are not reliable.”

Hafner works in agriculture and is going to school online.

“There are plenty of times where I am trying to upload a video assignment and I have to go outside and walk around, try to find the best signal I can find,” said Hafner. “I leave my tablet outside and hope it doesn’t get rained on or damaged cause I just can’t stand outside with it for the hour it takes to upload.”

NewsNation tested Hafner’s internet speed while interviewing him and the upload speed was barely over two megabits. The normal upload speed is approximately five.

Krysten Brown lives down the road. She said she loves living in the country but with three teenagers, slow internet is a big problem.

“You can watch a Netflix if you don’t do anything else,” said Brown. “But even then, it is going to stop and load. So you are going to stop and load. Stop and load. Stop and load.”

Brown had to get each of her kids a WiFi hot spot so they can go to school online.

“It is really about working from home or our children having to access internet to be competitive in school,” said Brown. “They are going to have to live stream everyday for 7.5 hours. It is like what happens when we get bogged down. We can’t.”

There are few options in rural America for internet. In Indiantown, it’s just a cable company and a satellite company. Neighbors say both options are painfully slow.

Expensive hot spots through cell phone companies with limited data are the only “somewhat” reliable options right now but that will soon change.

High speed internet for rural Americ could be coming from space. SpaceX is one of the several companies launching satellites into orbit with their project called “Starlink.”

The project is full of smaller satellites that spread out and beam internet signals to receivers at homes across rural areas.

“Essentially the satellites are about 300 miles up or so,” said Sawyer Rosenstein of “Talking Space”. “And there is going to be a huge network of them. The satellites all talk to each other and send data, that way they can send it quicker back down to your home.”

SpaceX is not releasing a lot of details about the project but experts say the internet services is expected to cost about $80 a month and be available sometime next year.

“The hope is within the next year or two they can get it out to customers and grow the network,” said Rosenstein. “They are hoping to have over 40,000 satellites and more than one million ground hubs that can branch out to individual homes.”

The residents of Indiantown are excited about the prospect.

“We are counting down six months. Six months. We are ready,” Brown said.

“If that can happen it would be incredible. A game changer. Not just in my area, around the country,” said Hafner.

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