The release of Starlink

As of July 2023 Starlink by SpaceX has been released in Guatemala. I noticed a rural school in Guatemala just had it installed allowing high speed Internet. I was interested in knowing what this community thought of it. My guess is the monthly cost may be out of reach for most. I was wondering if the Skylink router could be switched out to the RACHEL.

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Hi @ECOCAST - we are encouraged by Starlink in Guatemala. Our team has one of the earliest setups of Starlink. We are considering how to best leverage Starlink alongside, or in lieu of RACHEL, in certain communities.

Much of the difficulty around RACHEL or Starlink in a rural community is how to manage and support a communal good, especially one with recurring costs. We are contemplating what role we might be able to take on in facilitating communal ownership of a single Starlink unit at points where RACHEL is deployed and if can we connect a donor community (which really operates in one-time payments) with a community that has proven the ability to share a resource like RACHEL, along with our facilitating the installation, training, and support.

Open to anyone’s thoughts on the topic!

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Thanks for your response Jeremy. Sounds like a good strategy aligning yourself with Starlink where possible and leveraging that to continue or even expand your mission. I also like your idea of a communal effort to help offset the costs of a subscription model. Think that makes a lot of sense.

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How does StarLink impact the market for RACHEL? In the Philippines, DepEd has publicly announced the DepEd Digital Education 2028 (DepEd, internet firms discuss free Wi-Fi connection in schools | Philstar.com). The goal is to provide “speedy” Wi-Fi in all public schools by 2028. Clearly that goal won’t be met, but the trend would be very positive. Especially StarLink could be useful for rural areas. Does StarLink become “competition” for RACHEL in remote areas? How do you frame the discussion to provide the best digital content for learners? From the article
"To complement the digitalization of learning resources, Duterte said that DepEd is also currently developing an online platform dubbed as the “MATATAG Portal” wherein learners will have “instant access to their lessons, resources, modules, activity sheets and assessments with a unique log-in key.”

To reach more students in remote areas, Duterte said the DepEd is also currently procuring computer-labs-on-wheels also called “Digi-Ed Learning Carts.”

If DepEd is planning on computer labs on wheels, that doesn’t seem to imply that all schools will have internet.
I can see the complimentary nature of StarLink and RACHEL, but would need greater insights on how to “pitch” that. Is StarLink impacting the donor community? I realize the ongoing service fees for StarLink, but the donor community doesn’t always acknowledge the challenge of that cost. Ideas?

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