SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is in talks with Brazilian officials on a potential deal for the company to provide satellite internet in the Amazon rainforest and help detect illegal deforestation, Brazil said Wednesday.
Brazilian Communications Minister Fabio Faria met with the billionaire tech titan in Austin, Texas on Monday over a possible tie-up in which SpaceX would provide its satellite internet service, Starlink, to schools and health centers in remote areas, the ministry said.
SpaceX would also use its satellites to help police the destruction of the world's biggest rainforest, the ministry added.
"We are talking about environmental issues and connecting people in rural schools in Brazil," Faria said in a video posted on Twitter after the meeting.
"I'm very, very excited to start a partnership with Starlink and with SpaceX and Brazil."
Musk said he was "looking forward to providing connectivity to basically the least-served people in Brazil" and helping "ensure the preservation of the Amazon."
A ministry spokesman told AFP the meeting was a "first approach," and that there was no date yet for a deal to be signed.
Starlink uses a "constellation" of more than 1,500 low-orbit satellites to provide internet service accessible from most of the planet, including remote areas such as the Amazon, 60 percent of which is in Brazil.
The service could potentially usher in a connectivity revolution in Brazil, where around 40 million people lack internet access -- some 19 percent of the population.
Faria said the talks with the US-based space company aimed to bring internet access to every rural school in Brazil, as well as indigenous reservations and other remote areas.
The meeting comes as President Jair Bolsonaro's government seeks to combat international criticism that it has allowed a surge of deforestation in the Amazon, a vital resource in the race to curb climate change.
Since the far-right president took office in 2019, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has risen from an average of 6,500 square kilometers (2,500 square miles) per year during the previous decade to around 10,000, according to government data based on satellite images.
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