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Who is giving free Internet to families with schoolchildren?

Answer: SpaceX’s Starlink.

a digital rendering of high-speed internet
Starting early next year, families with schoolchildren will be the first in the southern U.S. to get the chance to use the new Starlink Internet network built by SpaceX. The network, which is powered by satellites, will connect 45 families in Ector County in Texas who do not currently have broadband access.

The connections will be provided free of charge, with the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) delivering the necessary equipment to the families. ECISD is paying Starlink $300,000 annually for the service, though half of the funds will come from a nonprofit. ECISD said that as Starlink’s network grows, the service will be expanded to 90 additional families.

This agreement is a first on two counts: One, it is the first time that Starlink services will be used in the southern U.S., and two, it is the first time that a school district will be using Starlink to connect its students.

“In collaboration with SpaceX, we are providing space-based Internet service to students and families that have few, if any, options,” said ECISD Superintendent of Schools Scott Muri. “The partners with us share our vision for equity and access for all students. Today, we take a giant leap forward in closing the digital divide that exists within our community.”