Friday, May 19, 2023

Internet in the deep jungle of the Amazon!


 At last, we have connectivity.  This will allow us to connect to the outside world for education, employment, and emergencies and to keep in touch with family and friends.

Gustavo with the satellite antenna.

After six months of being unable to sign up for the service, they finally solved the problems and sent us the equipment.  It arrived well-packed.  After a two-week setup and test in Leticia, we brought it to the village of La Libertad.

We first heard of the news of Starlink's arrival in the Amazon in the Colombia media.  After waiting for over two years for the service, it is here.  Other options for internet in the city of Leticia were very expensive (a $75 USD setup fee and very slow plans starting at $80/month to slow plans at $200/month).  No connections were available over 5Mb.  5Mb was the maximum US internet speed of the year 2006!

The antenna is mounted on the roof of the guesthouse.

We mounted the antenna on the roof of our guesthouse.  We can power it during the day with our solar panels.  The village diesel generator can power it from 4 pm to 9 pm.  Starlink may be connected to a commercial router with an adapter.  This allows us to share part of our connection with the villagers.  They connect with their cell phones to make calls using the app WhatsApp, which is widely used in Colombia.  They can also make free calls to any part of the world with this app!  This helps them to work with volunteers, tourism, and other businesses.  Plus, they can more easily communicate with friends, family, and emergency services.

The router we use to share the internet with the community.

Screenshot of our internet speed.

We were surprised and happy to find our connection speed up to 200Mb.  This is fast enough for many people to use the connection for internet browsing, messages, and voice/video calls.  We are even able to watch the occasional streaming movie!

A Starlink antenna in the city of Leticia. 

Leticia, 38 km downriver from our village, also has Starlink.  We had a shared connection from a local internet service provider (ISP), but the connection degraded rapidly as more and more people bought Starlink, and the ISPs sold many lines.  When too many people use the service in an area, the internet's bandwidth (speed) declines.  Within one year, Leticia had the highest concentration of Starlink antennas in the country of Colombia!  Starlink no longer supplies new accounts for residential services in the city.

Luckily, there are NO other Starlink systems within many kilometers of us.  We hope to have a fast connection for many years with very little or no competition for the satellites.

The notice of no new Starlink accounts in Leticia.

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