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Eau Claire County, Wis., Begins Free Starlink Internet Pilot

A one-year pilot in Eau Claire County, Wis., will provide free Internet to 50 residents through Elon Musk's satellite service, Starlink. The residents will receive equipment soon.

Starlink Connection
Shutterstock/Thomas Dutour
(TNS) — Participants in a rural broadband project should receive their Internet equipment in the near future.

The yearlong pilot project focuses on unserved businesses and households in rural parts of southeastern Eau Claire County. It is operated by SpaceX's Starlink and costs $85,000 total. The county chose 50 participants who will receive a year of free Internet as part of the project.

During the Eau Claire County Broadband Committee meeting Thursday, County Information Systems Director Dave Hayden said 48 of the 50 users signed and returned memoranda of understanding to the county. That allowed Starlink to email the users a link and instructions to set up their accounts. Once the accounts are set up, Starlink will ship the equipment for the users to install, who should be able to receive Internet from the Starlink satellite orbiting above the planet.

"Theoretically, it's a simple self-install and an almost automatic (Internet) connection and then they're off to the races," Hayden said. "We're finally getting things moving."


The Broadband Committee appointed Ann Nielsen as a new member to fill the health care position on the committee. According to her application, Nielsen has worked in health care for more than 18 years and "understand(s) the crucial role a virtual visit platform is to providing quality care."

Nielsen also said better broadband access "provides more affordable, accessible and convenient healthcare to people within our community."

The next Broadband Committee meeting is scheduled for July 15.

©2021 the Leader-Telegram, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.