Diego, 7, travels by boat with his father, Carlos Guerrero, every morning between the fjords of southern Chile to reach his school in the remote town of Sutomo, which, thanks to the recently installed satellite Internet, has a network for the first time.
Among the volcanoes, mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests that surround this city, about 1,100 kilometers south of Santiago, 20 families live in the most isolated southern Chile, without streets or roads, and from now on they can access the Internet in their public schools. It’s taken for granted in urban areas, but has so far been denied due to the place’s rugged terrain.
“It takes half an hour to 50 minutes to get to school. There are days when you can’t bring your children to school because of the weather,” Guerrero explained to AFP during the opening of the company’s Starlink technology. South African billionaire Elon Musk.
Thanks to an extensive network of satellites that the airline has put into orbit, this technology can provide internet to any remote point of the planet where physical infrastructure cannot reach, such as in Sotomo.
“We don’t have internet here. We just have what we have on the phone but the signal is very bad,” Guerrero says.
The climate in the area is windy. Rain, hail, and wind hit it daily, but that does not take away Diego’s desire to attend John F. Kennedy School, where a satellite dish, similar to television dishes, was installed on the roof of the Wood Building in the center. From the mountain it receives the signal from satellites and provides stable Internet with a speed of 100-200 megabytes.
– ‘It shows in their faces’ –
At the door of the school, with classrooms for 100 students, the only teacher at the Educational Center, Javier de la Parra, 58, is waiting like every morning for his seven students, who have arrived in the district since 2018 suffering from the complications of not having the internet in an interconnected world.
The teacher admits to AFP that the change was “enormous” because he was able to go from a “limited, very slow” and spotty connection that did not allow seven computers to be connected at the same time to the Internet without restrictions.
“It was a leap in speed and reach for me and for the kids as well, because they can connect and with this test they will be able to enter museums and connect to YouTube to watch educational videos, research information and develop projects. In terms of what we had, it would be a giant step,” he says. the professor.
Starlink technology was installed on July 27 and opened this Friday by the Chilean authorities. Sutomo is the first remote city to have this system still in testing, to which the city of Caleta Sierra in the northern Coquimbo region will be added.
Professor de la Parra and Guerrero acknowledged that the change is great for students “when it comes to doing their homework” and being able to learn “things faster without having to look for a signal,” says Diego’s father, who is now enjoying a high-quality internet signal like the rest. Children their age who are still in Chile, due to the pandemic, attend their classes in a mixed manner between face-to-face and online.
“It’s great enthusiasm, it shows on their faces, they are happy,” says the teacher.
– Community benefit –
In addition to children, you will also enjoy serving the twenty families who live in the area. Although power restrictions are generalized to all residents – the city only has a diesel generator that provides electricity 12 hours a day – they will now be able to use the school’s internet in their daily routines and procedures.
“The arrival of Starlink in Sotomó marks a before and after in terms of our country’s digital inclusion,” Chilean Minister of Transport and Communications, Gloria Hut, explained during the opening.
De la Barra sees it as more than a beneficial asset to the community that will help residents enjoy the benefits of technology.
In addition to “pedagogical purposes,” the teacher acknowledges that neighbors may go to school to do “their papers, transfers, or any undertaking that needs the Internet.”
“Even today there is no problem,” de la Parra says, relieved not to cut the line while teaching his seven students.
“Social media evangelist. Student. Reader. Troublemaker. Typical introvert.”