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Musk's satellites beam internet into Chilean boy's life

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In the small fishing hamlet of Sotomo, Chile, more than 600 miles south of Santiago, 7-year-old Diego Guerrero travels by boat to school each day with his Dad, Carlos, the two often battling wind and rain to get there.

It’s a remote existence, with Sotomo itself reachable only by water, its rocky coastline dotted with brightly colored wooden and tin houses inhabited by the hamlet’s mere 20 families, who make their living catching mussels and fish to sell at market some 5 hours away.

But on a recent day, Diego and his schoolmates found themselves connected to the world in a way they never could have imagined.

Their school was chosen as one of two places in Chile to receive free internet for a year - part of a pilot program run by billionaire Elon Musk.

Using tablets provided by the education ministry, the school's seven pupils can tap into online learning, watch films, take virtual museum tours and make video calls to children in other schools.

DIEGO GUERRERO: "Now we can play on tablets, do homework on tablets and those sort of things. Every day the teacher lends us tablets to find homework as well as games so that we're not bored."

The program is run by satellite company Starlink - a division of Musk’s SpaceX – which aims to roll out 12,000 satellites to provide broadband internet services around the world, with a focus on remote areas.

The signal is received via a satellite dish installed on the school's roof, which transmits through a Wi-Fi device to most of its facilities.

Eventually, the plan is to extend it to the rest of the hamlet.

It only works from noon to midnight, due to a limited supply of diesel for the generator that supplies power to Sotomo.

Nonetheless, it is a significant upgrade to the patchy mobile internet signal that residents currently can get on their phones by leaning out of windows or paddling out into the bay.

Diego’s teacher, Javier de la Barra: "And then the surprise, the expectation, and now the joy to have this. Hopefully it continues to provide results, as it has been doing, and for it to now be finalized."

Diego – whose favorite subject is math - wants to be a sailor, but his father hopes his son’s new window on the world will help broaden his horizons.

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