Africa: Watch This (Satellite) Space - Elon Musk's Starlink to Beam Internet Across the World

opinion

From Pretoria to space, Elon Musk is using low-orbit satellites to make internet access available across the world.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

It sounds like it's the script of a science fiction movie: thousands of low-orbit satellites beam down internet access to everybody no matter where they are in the world.

Except it's now science fact. Such a network is in the early stages of being created. Called Starlink, it is part of SpaceX, the remarkable company formed by South African-born Elon Musk.

Starlink ultimately plans to deploy 12,000 satellites, which will cost $10-billion, and is already offering an internet service in 11 countries.

"We've successfully deployed 1,800 or so satellites," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwel said last month. "Once all those satellites reach their operational orbit, we will have continuous global coverage, so that should be like September timeframe."

This is the obvious solution for people in places that are off the internet grid, as it were. They can now get internet access anywhere in the world, be it villages in mountainous countries, or remote rural villages anywhere in the developing world, refugees in camps with no other services, or people living on boats in...

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