The residents in Washington state who were impacted by the wildfires have managed to stay online, all thanks to the satellite broadband network of SpaceX.
The Starlink system set up by the company has played a pivotal role in the supply of emergency internet to the residents of Malden. Malden is a small town of approximately 200 people, and it is being estimated that at least 80% of the houses are destroyed by the terrible wildfires.
Yesterday, Washington’s Emergency Management Department posted a tweet with a photo of Starlink satellite. It showed how the satellite’s been working like a public WI-FI hotspot.
In a follow-up tweet, the department informed that “Malden, WA is an area where fiber and most of the town burned down. Without this equipment, it would have been much harder for folks to get internet in that area.”
Starlink satellite has provided around 7 terminals for free usage where they most deemed necessary. The rest of the Starlink terminals are currently supplying broadband in Bonney Lake and areas where the residents of Washington have been asked to evacuate.
“The terminals are being used for free public Wi-Fi, but we also used them for incident command vehicles out at the Bonney Lake, WA wildfire. SpaceX has not given us a timetable on when they need the equipment back. They’ve been pretty generous.” – says the company.
The department hasn’t confirmed the detail regarding the latency rates and speed of the emergency internet and has requested to take these questions to SpaceX. Some rumors suggest that the latency rates have reached around 30 milliseconds.
Richard Hall, who is the head of the IT division of Washington State Military Department, claims that he has never been able to set up tactical satellite equipment so quickly.
CEO Elon Musk was quick to respond to the queries regarding broadband connectivity.
He tweeted: “Glad SpaceX could help! We are prioritizing emergency responders and locations with no internet connectivity at all."
SpaceX declared at the beginning of this month that Starlink can deliver 100Mbps download speeds by utilizing 700 satellites. Hence, now the objective is to achieve 1Gbps internet speeds by means of launching thousands of satellites into space.
SpaceX will also launch a public beta for Starlink sometime this year to cater to the broadband needs of the northern US and Canadian residents. The company will expand the coverage to the rest of the world by 2021. All of this can be attained if the weather supports the mission.