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Elon Musk’s SpaceX asks Haiti to authorize internet services

Starlink satellite dish
A Starlink satellite dish used to provide internet services to rural communities. Photo credit: Starlink

The Haitian Times 
By Onz Chery

CAP-HAITIEN — Elon Musk’s SpaceX has asked Haiti for authorization to provide its high-speed satellite internet services in the country, according to a Jul. 29 note from Haiti’s National Council of Telecommunications (CONATEL).

SpaceX, the American spacecraft engineering company founded by Musk, asked for authorization to provide Starlink and Swarm internet services specifically. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation service that provides high-speed internet in isolated areas. Swarm is a satellite Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity provider SpaceX acquired in 2020.

Residents have long complained about Haiti’s slow internet. As of 2019, Haiti had an average download speed of 2.94 Megabits per second (Mbps), according to Statista, compared to Starlink’s 2022 average speed of 90.55 Mbps, according to Speedtest

Some Haitians rejoiced at the possibility of having high-speed internet around the country.

“That would be good,” said Gregory Pinchinat, a business intelligence analyst based in Port-au-Prince. “The service we get is relatively mediocre and minimal.”

Haiti has not said whether it answered SpaceX’s request. CONATEL did not answer The Haitian Times’ email request for an interview before this report.

However, CONATEL has approved a SpaceX initiative to conduct internet pilot tests in 20 Civil Protection Directory locations for four months and five other locations for two years. The locations are Henri Christophe Campus University of Limonade (CHCL), Michele Tardieu Library located in Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince, Hotel Karibe – Environment of Support, Saint Francois Xavier of Ouanaminthe School and the Haitian Association for the Development of Information and Communication Technologies (AHTIC), according to the note.

Starlink provides satellite internet to 36 countries. On Jul. 28, Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic, became the first country in the Caribbean to have Starlink internet services.

SpaceX tweeted: “Starlink is now available in the Dominican Republic! Excited to expand access to high-speed broadband internet in the Caribbean.”

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