Elon Musk eyes Kerry for satellite broadband project

23 Feb 2021

Image: © Dawid/Stock.adobe.com

As Elon Musk’s satellite internet venture is rolled out, Kerry’s Black Valley may be a target location.

Noted for being one of the last places in mainland Ireland to be connected to electricity and telephone networks, the remote region of the Black Valley in Co Kerry is reportedly set to be a pilot location for a new global broadband system.

It is part of tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink project, which is creating a network of thousands of satellites to form a new global broadband system. These satellites are being launched by Musk’s space company, SpaceX, with the aim of making high-speed, low-latency broadband available to people around the world, particularly in rural areas.

Starlink has been rolling out a beta service in the US and international locations. According to reports in The Irish Times and the Irish Examiner, the company approached Ireland’s Department of Rural and Community Development late last year and a strict non-disclosure agreement between Starlink and Kerry County Council was reached in December.

Sources said that the pilot project will see the installation of antennae in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and is likely to roll out in the coming weeks.

Due to its remote location, the Black Valley near Killarney has often been among the last locations to enjoy the benefits of new technology and connectivity.

Almost one-third of all Kerry premises have no access to high-speed broadband, a meeting of Kerry County Council was told last week. This would make it an ideal location for Musk’s Starlink project.

According to the company, Starlink satellites are more than 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet.

“Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge,” the company says.

“Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructure, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.”

Starlink currently promises speeds between 50Mbps and 150Mbps. However, Musk said in a tweet yesterday (22 February) that speeds will double later this year. He added in another tweet that Starlink will reach customers around “most” of the Earth by the end of 2021.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic