Students in K-12 schools in Hyde and Swain counties in North Carolina soon will get satellite broadband as the latest of several SpaceX Starlink pilots.

The Satellite Internet Technologies for Student Connectivity Pilot initiative is funded by $200,000 in CARES Act Funding from NCDIT and $64,000 in CARES Act Funding from NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, on behalf of Hometown Strong.

This pilot program will research, analyze, and provide recommendations regarding the use of satellite technologies that may help reduce the homework gap as well as improve rural healthcare and further rural economic development.

“High-speed internet is a critical tool that our students need to succeed in these challenging times and into the future,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a press release. about the Starlink pilot. “Innovative programs like this pilot with SpaceX can connect students and residents to high-quality, reliable internet service to help with remote learning, telehealth, job opportunities and more.”

The pilot will test the feasibility of the service for K-12 students who live in areas with no broadband infrastructure or reliable cellular service.

SpaceX provided a great deal of information about the current state of the Starlink satellite broadband offering in a filing with the FCC last month.

The filing is related to fulfilling requirements stemming from SpaceX’s success in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction. It took home $885 million towards the cost of making broadband and voice services available in unserved areas of 35 sates. The filing was part of its effort to attain eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) status in the states it will serve. Such status is a condition under which it will get the funding.

According to the filing, SpaceX is already serving more than 10,000 subscribers. Plans call for it to launch more than 4,400 low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites to serve the U.S.

The filing claims that users are getting 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload speeds and the company claims to have demonstrated voice services.

In December, a Starlink pilot was announced for Allen Township, a suburb of Marysville, Ohio. The trial includes 90 households and about 10 small businesses.

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