Brazil said Wednesday that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is in talks with Brazilian officials on a potential deal for the company to provide satellite internet in the Amazon rainforest and help combat illegal deforestation.
Brazil’s Communications Minister Fabio Faria met Monday in Austin, Texas, with the billionaire tech titan on a possible alliance in which SpaceX will provide its satellite Internet service, Starlink, to schools and health centers in remote areas, the ministry said.
SpaceX will also use its satellites to help police destroy the world’s largest rainforest, the ministry said.
“We’re talking about environmental issues and connecting people in Brazil’s rural schools,” Faria said in a video posted on Twitter after the meeting.
“I’m very excited to begin the partnership with Starlink and SpaceX and Brazil.”
Musk said he looks forward to “basically providing connectivity to the most underserved people in Brazil” and helping to “ensure Amazon’s preservation.”
A ministry spokesman told AFP the meeting was a “first approach” and there was no date yet for the signing of the agreement.
Starlink uses a “constellation” of more than 1,500 low-orbit satellites to make internet service accessible from most of the planet, including remote regions such as the Amazon, 60 percent of which are in Brazil.
The service could potentially herald a connectivity revolution in Brazil, where some 40 million people have no internet access – about 19 percent of the population.
Faria said the talks with the US-based space company are aimed at providing access to the Internet to every rural school in Brazil, as well as indigenous reservations and other remote areas.
The meeting comes as President Jair Bolsonaro’s government seeks to counter international criticism that it has allowed increased deforestation in the Amazon, a key resource in the race to curb climate change.
Since the right-wing president took office in 2019, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased from an average of 6,500 square kilometers (2,500 sq mi) per year to nearly 10,000 over the past decade, according to government data based on satellite images.
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