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Posted on: May 21, 2021

Coconino County Board of Supervisors Brings Internet Access to Rural Communities

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In partnership with SpaceX, Coconino County is delivering reliable high-speed internet to 45 rural households with the launch of state-of-the-art satellites seen throughout Arizona’s night sky recently.

Coconino County began conversations with SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer founded by Elon Musk, when Vice-Chair Lena Fowler and Coconino County’s Chief Information Officer Matt Fowler both met with the company in 2019. This resulted in securing accounts for the County to utilize SpaceX beta technology, created to make internet accessible to rural areas of Northern Arizona. Coconino County successfully became an early customer, purchasing and launching Starlink internet in a 45-household trial on May 6, 2021.

“We know the critical need for quality, reliable internet access to rural Coconino County. Our families and workforce need to be connected to compete in today’s market, grow in their education, and enhance their quality of life. Coconino County, once again, leads the way by providing internet access through an innovative and resourceful partnership,” Vice-Chair Lena Fowler explained. 

The beta technology is currently only available near Tuba City in an area in which there was no service previously. Forty-five households in the geographical area are part of this trial, in which Coconino County invested $81,000. Each household received the $499 satellite dish and one year of internet services at no cost. Those in the trial have the ability to continue internet service after the year by paying a monthly fee. The households include individuals from the Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute, and Hopi tribes.  

“This journey would not have been possible without the continuous teamwork from SpaceX, County Management, and our Board of Supervisors. We rely heavily on our public and private partners to offer internet where it historically has been unavailable. This is a truly exciting moment,” commented CIO Matt Fowler.

“Providing internet to rural Coconino County is a must. Our rural residents will benefit from this innovative County program. Together we can help to enhance the digital connection for our residents,” said Supervisor Judy Begay.

If Starlink is targeting your area, you can pre-register for when the technology is available in the near future.

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