The satellite internet company Starlink will provide broadband internet access to people in Florida affected by Hurricane Ian, according to Elon Musk.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said on Saturday that Starlink would reposition some of its satellites to help get emergency responders online in Florida, where Hurricane Ian has resulted in more than 61 deaths and knocked power out for more than 700,000 homes and businesses, down from 2.6 million initially, according to the Associated Press.
"We are working with Elon Musk and Starlink satellites," DeSantis said Saturday at a press conference in Fort Meyers, where he said the state was working with local telecom companies to restore internet and phone access.
In addition to repositioning satellites to improve internet coverage, SpaceX, the company that operates Starlink, was expected to deploy 120 large Starlink units to be used on the ground, DeSantis said. He added that each unit can provide up to 1,000 users with internet access within a 13 mile radius. DeSantis said the units would be distributed in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto and Hardee counties.
SpaceX did not respond immediately to a request for further information.
DeSantis said SpaceX and Elon Musk were the ones who donated the costs associated with all the coverage, so we want to thank SpaceX and thank SpaceX for that.
This is not the first time that SpaceX has made its technology available to a crisis-stricken area. After Russia invaded in February, the company sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development initially described SpaceX as a donation of $10 million, but later it emerged that the U.S. government had paid for some of the Starlink terminals and some shipping costs, according to the Washington Post. SpaceX did not respond to the Post's requests for comment about the arrangement.
Florida governor's office and SpaceX did not respond immediately to MarketWatch's questions on whether the state will pay any costs associated with the Starlink deployment to help Hurricane Ian victims.
Musk, founder of Tesla TSLA, and one of the world's richest people, said earlier this year that he considers his companies to be a form of philanthropy because they exist to help humanity.
Musk said in an interview with Chris Anderson, head of TED Talks, that SpaceX, Tesla, Neuralink and The Boring Company are philanthropy. SpaceX is trying to ensure the long-term survival of humanity with multi-planet species. This is a love of humanity. Organizations that accept donations include the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Florida Disaster Fund, which is the State of Florida's official private fund established to provide financial assistance to communities as they respond to and recover from emergencies or disasters, according to the governor's office.