By Sean Moriarty
Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite Internet service has already been in contact with home and business owners in the Killarney area offering a connection to the new service.
Starlink is SpaceX’s plan to build an interconnected Internet network with thousands of satellites, designed to deliver high-speed Internet to anywhere on the planet. The network is an ambitious endeavour, which SpaceX has said will cost about $10 billion or more to build.
Earlier this week it was reported that one of the last places in Ireland to get electricity and telephone connections – The Black Valley – could be one of the first in the world to get a satellite based broadband Internet connection – thanks to interest from the Tesla electric car founder.
However, potential customers who want to sign up for the service can do so by paying a monthly fee of around €80 on top of an initial €400 fee for a connection kit.
“If this brings Internet to the Black Valley, we don’t care where it comes from,” Patricia Deane, the manager of the McGillycuddy Reeks European Innovative Partnerships Project (EIPP), told the Killarney Advertiser.
“If this really is a possibility it should be explored without delay. The Black Valley community needs this basic infrastructure now more than ever and have been waiting a long time for help in getting working broadband delivered to the area. There are people in the Black Valley that don’t even have a mobile phone signal not to mind broadband. They are holding phones up to the window to take calls. In this day and age, with working from home and children home-schooling, broadband is a basic service.”
Kerry County Council has confirmed to the Killarney Advertiser that it is in talks with Starlink’s parent company Spacelink – the company that launched several satellites into space last summer – but remains tight-lipped on the finer details of the situation.
Several businesses in Killarney have been contacted by the company after receiving emails inviting them to join the service. While there were initial concerns that the email was a scam, they have turned out to be genuine.
One Killarney business man – who did not want to be named – said he got an email from Starlink inviting him to subscribe to the service, adding he has no direct links to the Black Valley.
“It came to my business email, not my personal one,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “I don’t know where they got it but it is genuine – we checked it out.”
Starlink claim its satellite service will be available worldwide later this year. The American firm is targeting rural areas across the world – places where mobile and landline coverage is impossible.
“Important to note that cellular will always have the advantage in dense urban areas. Satellites are best for low to medium population density areas,” said Starlink Elon Musk late last year.
More tellingly he Tweeted: “Starlink is really meant for those who are least served.”