Coconino County continues to lead the effort in connecting students with SpaceX’s Starlink high-speed internet across Northern Arizona, including multiple tribal communities within the region, and now on school buses.
With continued focus on education, Coconino County collaborated with Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) and Page Unified School District (PUSD) to identify and select routes with an emphasis on connecting students who must ride the bus more than one hour to and from school. SpaceX provided Coconino County with two of their Flat High Performance Starlink kits that are installed on the buses, enabling students to stay connected and complete homework during their transit.
“The opportunity to deploy new technology to connect underserved rural communities is a tremendous achievement,” commented Supervisor Fowler. “The collaboration between SpaceX and Coconino County illustrates what can be achieved when the right people come together at the right time. We are incredibly thankful to our partners for the opportunities they have enabled by delivering enhanced connectivity throughout our most underserved communities.”
Coconino County began conversations with SpaceX when District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler and Coconino County’s Chief Information Officer Matt Fowler both met with the company in 2019. This resulted in securing a private donation for the County to utilize Starlink and make high-speed 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. Shortly after, the County identified K-12 students living on the Navajo Nation without access to the internet or existing speeds less than 5 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. The County Information Technology Department engaged with the Board of Supervisors and the Flagstaff Unified School District, seeking collaboration opportunities to identify eligible students living on the reservation.
To date, Coconino County facilitated approximately 300+ implementations of Starlink internet services for a free 2-year period, which was made possible by private donations. This provides students the ability to connect with education providers and continue their studies remotely.
“This journey would not have been possible without the continuous teamwork from SpaceX, County Management, our Board of Supervisors, FUSD and PUSD. We rely heavily on our public and private partners to offer internet where it historically has been unavailable. This is truly an exciting moment,” commented CIO Matt Fowler. “We have amazing community partners, and this opportunity to embrace new technologies has greatly benefitted students in our region,” commented Deputy CIO Helen Costello.