Business & Economy

Ecuador joins Starlink, Elon Musk’s Internet service

Quito, Apr 13 (EFE).- The Ecuadorian government soon will begin providing the Galapagos Islands with Starlink, the Internet service that is part of the SpaceX conglomerate owned by US billionaire Elon Musk.

Although the service began operating on the Ecuadorian mainland early this year, the launching of Starlink in the coming days in the archipelago will take place with a special ceremony there, Ecuador’s telecommunications minister, Vianna Maino, told EFE.

The service will be brought to the Galapagos, which are located about 1,000 kilometers (some 620 miles) west of South America in the Pacific Ocean because it is a region where Internet coverage lags and where the Starlink technology will fit perfectly.

Starlink is a network of more than 4,000 nanosatellites interlinked by laser that circle the Earth at an altitude of some 2,000 km (1,240 miles) with about 15 of the satellites covering Ecuador and Peru with Internet that does not require cable connections or groundbased stations.

The Starlink equipment includes a small antenna that can be installed on the roof of a house, an electric regulator and a router, like those that cable and fiber optic companies offer, the minister said.

Due to its characteristics, satellite Internet is perfect for covering remote or rural areas, whereas other Internet services require a lot of infrastructure to bring the Web to those regions, and thus one can say that “there is no environmental effect” from the new technology, something that is vital in the Galapagos Islands, Maino said.

The equipment, she said, has already begun arriving at the homes of island residents who want to sign up with the Starlink service, although the coverage will be across Ecuador’s entire national territory.

Maino emphasized the fact that Musk’s conglomerate decided to begin doing business in Ecuador in part because of the privileged position the country enjoys on the Equator, but also due to the facilities and advantages offered to the firm and made available to foster this type of technology by the government in Quito.

The service is not inexpensive, costing some $60 per month plus some $360 for the equipment needed to hook up to the service, but Maino said that those amounts, as has already occurred in Chile and Mexico, will come down over time.

In addition, the presence of Starlink in Ecuador has spurred other Internet providers to announce their intention to move into Ecuador, including Echostar, E-Space, Viasat and Intelsat, and these companies also offer Internet for oceangoing vessels and aircraft, the minister said.

Also, she said that the government’s policies to attract investment have enabled other services like Amazon Web and Google Cloud to set their sights on Ecuador with technological innovation projects.

These days, telecommunications has become vital, with various studies finding that many people spend, on average, 65 percent of their time each day online.

Telecommunications, Maino said, are now “absolutely essential” services and are expanding massively around the world with heretofore unimaginable advances.

“Every 11 hours, technological knowledge is updated,” and thus “following the development of technologies is a challenge” for countries around the world, she said.

The speed at which the best technologies are advancing is forcing service offerings in this area to become ever more varied and to incorporate more innovations, and Ecuador must be determined to participate in that, Maino said.

“Technology is the tool, development is the objective,” she said.

EFE –/bp

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