SpaceX chief Elon Musk has said he will seek to bring his Starlink satellite internet service to Iran. The billionaire businessman suggested his plans in a post on Twitter.
Earlier this week, Musk announced on the social media service, “Starlink is now active on all continents, including Antarctica.”
After reading Musk’s tweet, Iranian-born science journalist Erfan Kasraie then posted his own message to the SpaceX chief.
“I’m sure you won’t answer that, Mr. Musk, but is it technically possible to provide Starlink to the Iranians?” Kasraie asked. “It could be a game-changer for the future.”
Musk responded to Kasraie. He wrote: “Starlink will request a exemption in iranian punishments in this regard.” The sanctions he spoke of are related to Iran’s nuclear activities. The restrictions prevent a wide range of American companies from doing business with Iran.
SpaceX owns and operates Starlink, a network of satellites launched into near-Earth orbit. Since the network is satellite-based, it is designed to provide high-speed internet service to rural and under-connected areas of the world.
SpaceX says the service aims to produce internet speeds of up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps) in all regions of the world. In the United States, the service costs $110 per month, with a one-time cost of $599 for the equipment. The service costs less in some other parts of the world.
So far, more than 3,000 Starlink satellites have been deployed in space. SpaceX launched the latest set of 54 satellites on Sunday. In a video published on social media in June, the company said the Starlink service had nearly 500,000 users in 32 countries.
Several people asked Musk on Twitter to provide satellite internet service in Iran.
Musk’s suggestion to seek an exemption to offer the service in Iran came as widespread protests took place in the country’s Kurdistan province. The region is home to Iran’s Kurdish minority.
The demonstrations were held to protest the death earlier this month of a 22-year-old woman who died while in police custody. The woman, Mahsa Amini, was arrested by agents of Iran’s “morality police”.
The United Nations human rights office condemned Amini’s death and called for an investigation. The UN body says the country’s morality officers have expanded their activities in recent months. They targeted women for not wearing the Islamic head covering known as hijab properly.
Iranian police denied abusing Amini and said she died of a heart attack. Iranian officials said they were investigating the incident.
In Iran, to access to social media and certain media content is severely restricted. In recent days, internet watch group NetBlocks has reported “nearly all” disturbance internet connectivity in the capital of Iran’s Kurdish region, where the protests took place.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Elon Musk announced that Starlink service had been established in Ukraine. His announcement came after the NetBlocks group said it confirmed major internet service disruptions across Ukraine after the invasion began.
SpaceX recently said it deployed more than 15,000 Starlink receivers in Ukraine. Musk said earlier this year that Russian forces were unable to disrupt Starlink service.
In April, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it had helped provide 5,000 Starlink receivers to Ukraine through a “public-private partnership” with SpaceX.
USAID explained the deployment of the Starlink system in a statement. He said the receivers were intended to allow “civil servants and critical service providers to continue to communicate within Ukraine and with the outside world” when other communication services were interrupted.
I am Brian Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Twitter.
words in this story
exemption – nm special permission not to have to do anything or pay anything
sanction – nm an action taken to force a country to obey international laws by limiting trade or aid to the country
to access – nm the ability to find or see something
disturb – v. interfere with normal activity
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