Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 6, 2021

RALEIGH (AP) — Public school students in some of North Carolina’s most isolated areas could benefit from a new state initiative that offers high-speed internet through low-orbit satellites.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced this week that a pilot program assembled by several state offices and paid for with federal COVID-19 relief funds will target young people in Hyde and Swain counties who lack reliable broadband service, or have none at all. The deficit in internet access makes it harder for students to study from home, especially during a pandemic.

Students in the counties’ school districts will be able to test internet service through Starlink, which uses satellites launched into the air by SpaceX, a company led by CEO Elon Musk.

Cooper’s office says the $264,000 in coronavirus relief funding will be used to research and recommend how best satellite technology can help improve rural healthcare and rural economic development, let alone education.