Tuesday, December 27, 2022
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Monday that the company is now close to having 100 active Starlinks, the firm's satellite internet service, in Iran, three months after he tweeted he would activate the service there amid protests around the Islamic country.
Musk said, "approaching 100 starlinks active in Iran", in a tweet on Monday.
The billionaire had said in September that he would activate Starlink in Iran as part of a US-backed effort "to advance internet freedom and the free flow of information" to Iranians.
The satellite-based broadband service could help Iranians circumvent the government's restrictions on accessing the internet and certain social media platforms amid protests around the country.
The Islamic Republic has been engulfed in protests that erupted after the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody after being arrested by the morality police for wearing "unsuitable attire".
Starlink has more than 2,000 tiny satellites orbiting just a few hundred kilometers above Earth, providing internet access to users below.
The land-based terminals are then wired up to basic routers that create small wifi spots.
Earlier this year, controversial billionaire Musk gained hero status in Ukraine after sending thousands of Starlink terminals to the country in the days after Russia´s invasion.
Ukraine now has 20,000 of the small white receivers throughout the country.
Twitter head Musk's Monday message was posted in response to a user whose video they said was taken in the "streets of Iran," where there is now "more freedom for the women to choose whether they cover their hair or not."
The post appeared to reference protests that swept Iran and the world after the September death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini following her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country's strict dress code for women.
Iran has unleashed a crackdown arresting around 14,000 people, according to the UN, and killing 469 protesters according to Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR).
The country's top security body in early December gave a toll of more than 200 people killed, including security officers.
The authorities had already restricted access to Instagram and WhatsApp — until this autumn the last remaining unfiltered social media services — and then clamped down on apps like the Google Play Store as well as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that seek to circumvent local access restrictions.
Iranians have long used VPNs to access sites blocked in Iran — even government officials including the foreign minister have Twitter accounts despite the network being blocked in the country.