March 08, 2023
Starlink key for future crisis calls
A communications expert says Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service could be the way to safeguard isolated Maori communities against future communication blackouts.
Last month’s cyclone exposed major gaps when power failures cut mobile phone and internet services on the worst-affected regions, at a time when people needed them most.
Dr Ulrich Speidel, a senior lecturer in computer science at Auckland University, says he was able to monitor Starlink performance from his own home set-up.
“And it kept operating during the cyclone, and it was a slightly impaired performance, but it was more than good enough to exchange emails, and go on to places like facebook, and go on to the web and get messages out, and get messages, and I think it would probably have even been good enough to make internet phone calls,” he says.
Dr Speidel says alternatives like solar-powered cellphone towers should also be considered – but they are much more expensive.