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Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink unit will provide free Internet to a Texas school district

45 families in the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa will get access to the satellite service 'early in 2021'

As SpaceX continues to launch satellites for its burgeoning Internet business, the Elon Musk-led company will also give provide free access to families in a Texas school district.

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The announcement, which came from the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) in Odessa, Texas, will see 45 families get access to the satellite service "early in 2021," while an additional 90 families will get access to the service as the network evolves.

“This innovative partnership represents bold and unprecedented action for our school district and our community,” said ECISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Scott Muri in a statement. “Our research clearly indicates the lack of broadband access is a crisis in Ector County. In collaboration with SpaceX, we are providing space-based Internet service to students and families that have few, if any, options. The partners with us share our vision for equity and access for all students. Today, we take a giant leap forward in closing the digital divide that exists within our community.”

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Right now, the system is in beta in the northern U.S. On Monday, SpaceX expanded its beta, telling users who expressed interest in the service that it would be priced at $99 a month, in addition to a $499 initial charge for the Starlink Kit to connect the user terminal to the satellites, according to CNBC.

The kit also includes a mounting tripod and router. There are also Starlink apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, FOX Business has confirmed.

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Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit group for school-district leaders, is providing $150,000 for the cost of "this and other internet connectivity projects in the district," the statement added.

More than 700 satellites have been launched, according to CNet, which also notes that 60 of the older satellites are in the process of deorbiting. In April, Musk said there were 420 Starlink satellites in space.

The Musk-led company has said it is targeting service in the northern part of the U.S. and Canada this year but has not given an exact time frame yet.

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In the past, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the company will "probably" take its Starlink Internet business public, but only when it has "predictable" and "smooth" revenue growth.

In July, Morgan Stanley said SpaceX could be worth as much as $175 billion if Musk's Starlink Internet service is successful.

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