Technology

Internet in the Amazon: Brazil in discussion with Elon Musk

Elon Musk said he was “eager to bring connectivity to those who need it most in Brazil.” (Photo: 123RF)

Brazil is in talks with the director of the US company SpaceX, Elon Musk, on the provision of satellite Internet access in the Amazon and the detection of illegal deforestation, Brasilia announced on Wednesday.

Communications Minister Fabio Faria met with the American billionaire in Austin, Texas, on Monday, with a view to a partnership with SpaceX that would provide, through Starlink, an Internet connection to schools and health centers in isolated areas. .

SpaceX would also allow the detection, thanks to its satellites, of the illegal deforestation of the world’s largest tropical forest, the ministry explained.

“We are discussing environmental issues and connecting people in rural schools in Brazil,” the minister said in a video posted on Twitter after the meeting. “I am excited to partner with Starlink and with SpaceX.”

Elon Musk said for his part “eager to bring connectivity to those who are most deprived of it in Brazil” and help “guarantee the preservation of the Amazon”, essential for climate balance.

A Brazilian ministry spokesperson told AFP that this meeting represented “a first approach” and that a date had not been advanced for the signing of an agreement.

Starlink uses “a constellation” of more than 1,500 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide Internet to most areas of the planet, particularly in the Amazon, 60% of which are in Brazil.

In this country with a continental dimension, some 40 million inhabitants still do not have access to the Internet, that is, 19% of the population.

Faria said an agreement should allow Internet access to all rural schools in Brazil, as well as to indigenous reservations and other isolated areas.

This meeting took place when Brazil says it is ready to fight deforestation in the Amazon, whose accelerated destruction since Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019 has drawn much criticism.

The Bolsonaro government even announced on the sidelines of COP26 that it would advance from 2030 to 2028 the deadline to eradicate illegal deforestation.

But since 2019 and the coming to power of the far-right president, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has reached 10,000 km2 per year compared to an average of 6,500 km2 per year during the previous decade, according to official satellite data.

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