Since early May, 45 rural households in Coconino County have used internet access brought to them by state-of-the-art satellites made by SpaceX.
Coconino County began conversations with Elon Musk’s company in 2019. This meeting resulted in the county securing SpaceX beta technology, which was created to make the internet more accessible to rural areas.
The Northern Arizona county purchased and launched Starlink internet in a trial on May 6.
“We know the critical need for quality, reliable internet access to rural Coconino County,” said County Vice-chair Lena Fowler in a statement. “Our families and workforce need to be connected to compete in today’s market, grow in their education, and enhance their quality of life. Coconino County, once again, leads the way by providing internet access through an innovative and resourceful partnership.”
The technology is currently available near Tuba City, where there was no service previously. The households include individuals from the Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute and Hopi tribes.
Coconino County invested $81,000 in this trial. Each household received a $499 satellite dish and one year of internet services at no cost. Those participating in the trial can continue internet service after the year ends by paying a monthly fee.
“This journey would not have been possible without the continuous teamwork from SpaceX, County Management, and our Board of Supervisors. We rely heavily on our public and private partners to offer internet where it historically has been unavailable,” said Chief Information Officer Matt Fowler in a statement. “This is a truly exciting moment.”