Brazilian government officials met tech entrepreneur Elon Musk to discuss a potential partnership to boost connectivity and use of next-generation technology in the Amazon rainforest region.
The meeting is part of the agenda of a technical mission to the United States led by the Brazilian Ministry of Communications, which began on Friday (12). Minister Fabio Faria met Musk and the president and chief operating officer at space transportation company SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, in Austin on Monday (15).
According to the government, topics discussed during the meeting included use of technology to protect the Amazon rainforest, to monitor deforestation and illegal fires, as well as connectivity projects for schools and healthcare centers in rural areas, indigenous communities and remote locations.
Quoted in a statement from the MCom, Musk celebrated the opportunity. “We are looking forward to be able to providing connectivity for the less connected,” the magnate said.
Faria’s intention is to secure an agreement to use SpaceX’s technology in the context of Wi-Fi Brazil, a program that aims to boost connectivity in remote locations. Moreover, the government sees the fleet of approximately 4,500 satellites, which serve Musk’s companies and orbit at low altitude, as useful to improving the monitoring of environment crimes in the Amazon rainforest.
Connectivity in the rainforest is one of the specific obligations for the winners of the 3.5GHz frequency of Brazil’s recent 5G auction. Requirements include the expansion of the fiber optic cable network in the riverbeds of the North region, including the Amazon.
In a previous US visit in 2021, the government met the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to request $1 billion in funding for investment projects to support a plan to deliver connectivity to the digitally excluded in the North of the country.
Millions of Brazilians are still lacking access to the Internet in Brazil, according to government figures. Lack of interest and technical knowledge to go online, were cited among the main barriers for those who remain unconnected.
The high price of Internet services was another reason given by Brazilians who don’t use it, as well as lack of service availability – particularly in the North of the country, where the Amazon region is located.