billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink has been given the green light to start operating in Jamaica.

Starlink, which is owned by the Musk company SpaceX, is the world’s first and largest satellite constellation using a low Earth orbit to deliver broadband Internet capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls and more.

On Thursday, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz approved the licence for Starlink Services Jamaica to start providing high-speed, low-latency broadband Internet across the island after the Office of Utilities Regulation gave the nod to the company’s application for service provider and carrier telecoms licences.

According to Vaz, this is monumental for the advancement of Jamaica as a digital society.

“We are working assiduously to broaden the connectivity across the island. Starlink is a move in the right direction because with satellite Internet even the areas that have never been connected previously have the opportunity to have access to high-speed Internet now,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Consumers will now have more options in choosing service providers. I remain committed to ensuring we continue to advance technologically as this will bolster advancement in education, the medical field, and economic growth,” added Vaz.

He noted that the introduction of Starlink means that even the most remote and under-served areas in Jamaica will have access to connectivity. Communities with Starlink will be able to deliver online education, provide tele-health services, and connectivity to support and enable economic growth.

Starlink, which has been in operation since 2019, already has a presence in more than 30 countries. It also offers unprecedented connectivity continuity during cases of natural disaster and emergency response. The company has provided support in the aftermath of hurricanes, following wildfires and flooding, and supported governments and public safety officials in other times of crisis.

Just last week it was announced that SpaceX would be using Starlink to provide satellites to help restore Internet services in areas of Florida ravaged by Hurricane Ian.

“Thanks to your innovative technology, Floridians will be able to better connect with their loved ones,” Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis wrote on Twitter last Saturday, referencing SpaceX’s Starlink broadband service.

In Chile, the only access to Sotomo Alto — a village of 20 families — is by boat. With Starlink, students in the village are now using tablets provided by the Chilean education ministry to access online learning materials, participate in virtual museum visits, and interact with students at other schools via video calls.

Noting the need for continuous, reliable and quality Internet at sea or in the air, SpaceX is now providing specialised Starlink kits to support these customers.

“This will be an enabling force which will further strengthen the Government’s objective in transforming the future of Jamaica by connecting the under-served and unserved communities. We look forward to introducing the Starlink kit to the public, which arrives with everything you need to get online in minutes, including your Starlink [satellite], Wi-Fi router, cables and base,” Dr Maria Myers-Hamilton, managing director of Spectrum Management Authority, said on Thursday.

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