SpaceX wants to put Starlink Internet on school buses so kids can do homework

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,332   +163
Staff member
What just happened? SpaceX is working with select school districts to pilot a program to provide Wi-Fi on buses, transforming "ride time to connected time." In a recent message to the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX argued that no service is better situated to bridge the "Homework Gap" than Starlink. SpaceX is targeting school districts in rural areas where commutes are more than an hour each way and predominantly lack access to other mobile broadband services.

SpaceX further noted that the overwhelming majority of participating students will not have access to high-speed broadband at home. According to cited figures, an estimated 17 million students in the US do not have access to an Internet connection at home.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel earlier this year announced a proposal to allow the use of federal funding to put Wi-Fi on school buses.

These "rolling study halls" sound like a great idea on paper, but I am not convinced they will translate to the real world. Frankly, nobody wants to do homework on the bus. It is loud and there is a lot going on. Kids are playing and visiting with their friends. Good luck being productive in that environment.

Perhaps I am the one that is out of touch, but are all homework assignments these days Internet-based? What happened to book assignments and paper worksheets? And what about the potential for motion sickness? Having my head plastered to a screen while being carted around for more than an hour would no doubt leave me feeling nauseated by the time I got home or to school. If anything, I imagine kids would use on-board Wi-Fi to watch videos or play games.

Google tested a similar program in 2018 called Rolling Study Halls. In addition to mobile Wi-Fi, that program supplied students with an onboard educator to help with homework assignments. If it was such a great idea, I suspect Google would have expanded the program and we would have heard a lot more about it by now.

Image credit: David McElwee, Joshua Hoehne

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yRaz

Posts: 4,623   +5,583
How long do they think bus rides are? at most, my bus ride to school was 30 minutes with traffic. And that bumpy ride SUCKS for writing or reading, there are times I tried to do homework on the busride home and it was just a nightmare.

99% of kids wont do homework on the bus ride home. That said, I can't blame a business man for trying to milk money out of people for their business. As dumb as this is, and I'm sure he knows how dumb it is, it's pretty genius to pitch it this way. You know there are ***** parents that will nod their head and say, "yeah! that's a great idea, I'd love it if little Timmy could do homework on the way home!"
 

Dr Roboto

Posts: 38   +73
Marketing gimmick for Starlink, no more, no less. I mean, the kids, think about the kids how could the government not give SpaceX millions of dollars to help the kids. It is complete BS, and Elon is just looking for yet another way to get the government to help pay for one of his businesses. I have 3 kids between middle and high school, and not for one moment are they going to do school work on the bus. The have cell reception now, and guess what they do with it, yep, social media and games.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,088   +8,124
Sounds like Elon is dispirit for more sales and any school board that falls for this one is deserving to be voted out ... if for nothing more than the outrageous cost.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,831   +7,752
99% of kids wont do homework on the bus ride home. That said, I can't blame a business man for trying to milk money out of people for their business. As dumb as this is, and I'm sure he knows how dumb it is, it's pretty genius to pitch it this way. You know there are ***** parents that will nod their head and say, "yeah! that's a great idea, I'd love it if little Timmy could do homework on the way home!"
This is just an extension of Musk's paranoid delusions of godhood..

He, (allegedly), has more money than a hundred normal people could spend in ten lifetimes, now he's insisting on being, "omnipresent". WTF is next, Starlink for incubators?
 

m4a4

Posts: 3,011   +3,955
TechSpot Elite
Yeah, homework. That's TOTALLY what the kids will use it for. Come on, Elon..
I mean, as long as you have a competent IT guy setting up the internet, you can totally restrict the internet to only sites for homework.

You'd think on a tech forum, that would be one of the first things people assume....
 

m4a4

Posts: 3,011   +3,955
TechSpot Elite
Eh, I can see it helping some kids out (who'd actually want to do some work on a longer bus ride home). But I wouldn't trust that most kids would want to. Letalone that they all would be fine working on a bus (motion sickness).

Would be nice to get the gov't throwing money your way though lol
 

defaultluser

Posts: 477   +366
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3ogdy

Posts: 67   +54
Sure, why not become even more anti-social than before? We could just have children stare down at their screens all the way to school and back.

Got any memories from interacting with your colleagues on the bus?

Kids riding Wi-Fi-enabled buses likely won't.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,831   +7,752
Would be nice to get the gov't throwing money your way though lol
There's a couple of problems with this line of thought.

Or as "Hamlet", (I believe), would say, "here's the rub"; "Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous taxation on the part of the middle class in acceding more tithes to Elon Musk, or just, say 'screw it", and do without an ISP on school buses". :rolleyes:
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,831   +7,752
well if we go back to remote learning, its faster than the old lte to WiFi they used for students in the sticks during the pandemic:
I hesitate to say this, but this is poorly thought out, at best.

To facilitate, "remote learning", from internet on school buses, wouldn't you either have to park a school bus in front of each child's house. or do the "remote learning" with 50 children on each bus, which for all intents and purposes, negates the concept.

OTOH, we could put a Starlink base station in each child's home, in effect, accomplishing nothing more than changing their ISP at a massive cost to taxpayers
I mean, whats the point of having all these cheap Chromebooks when you have no dependable local infrastructure
Couldn't this be cured just as well by declaring internet a "utility", and forcing regional ISPs to extend their coverage and/or upgrading their present infrastructure?

Starlink is far from the "cheap alternative" that Musk claimed it would be. He's been consistently raising prices, just like those other, "greedy ISPs".

Granted, he has been doing, "some good things", like providing free base stations to Ukraine but, other customers are likely to find themselves paying for those as well.

"Noblesse oblige", is something the uber rich trot out when it becomes apparent to all concerned that they are making far too much money.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,530   +5,965
Sounds like a great recipe for a busload full of vomiting carsick children.
I mean, as long as you have a competent IT guy setting up the internet, you can totally restrict the internet to only sites for homework.

You'd think on a tech forum, that would be one of the first things people assume....
>competent IT guy
>outsmart kids
>school district

Oh my sweet naive summer child.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,831   +7,752
Wake up people, the young mutts already have mobile internet. It's how they connect with their ubiquitous smartphones.

This is nothing but more than bullsh!t from Musk trying to line his pockets..
 

m4a4

Posts: 3,011   +3,955
TechSpot Elite
Wake up people, the young mutts already have mobile internet. It's how they connect with their ubiquitous smartphones.

This is nothing but more than bullsh!t from Musk trying to line his pockets..
Not every kid and their parents (if they have them) can afford a smartphone with a data plan. I won't pretend this would help no one.....
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,831   +7,752
Not every kid and their parents (if they have them) can afford a smartphone with a data plan.
Here's the thing, while I can't speak to all municipalities, in my neck of the woods, big, bad, Comcast, is offering >free<, to something on the order of $10.00 a month internet, to individuals at or below the poverty level. So, for an African-American unwed mother of six, (or other disadvantaged parent), neither Chromebooks nor internet access, (for the most part), are an insurmountable problem. Heavy emphasis was placed on the issue, especially during the lock down.

Apologies, Comcast is now "Xfinity" for marketing purposes. Here's the entitlement program: https://www.xfinity.com/learn/internet-service/acp/free-internet

Meanwhile, parents were bellyaching, pissing and moaning, picketing in the streets, (almost to the point of rioting), demanding that schools be opened.in order for their children to develop social skills and friendships, which were denied in the context of "home schoolin'.". So now, we have Elon Musk pretending that turning school buses into, "remote learning facilities", is a brilliant idea..

Even, (so called) "lower animals", are capable of displaying ulterior motivations.. As an example, a cat will purr and rub against your leg, in an attempt to get its dinner. Which, (IMO of course) strangely parallels Muskies' maneuverings with the Starlink proposal.
I won't pretend this would help no one.
Nor will I. But not in the broad context the Musk seems to think it should be implemented. I'm sure there are children growing up in tin shacks or abandoned log cabins out of the reach of cell towers, that could benefit from Starlink service. But, certainly not to the degree that Musk is purring and rubbing up against the government's leg to provide..:rolleyes:

Footnote: Policies or opinions toward low cost internet access may be vastly different in certain red states.In these areas, where it seems to be preferable that a 13 year old remain, "barefoot and pregnant", as well as uneducated, in accordance with prevailing, "moral and religious doctrines"..
 
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