French village rejects Starlink from Elon Musk and refuses permission to put in antennas
To achieve his dream of satellite internet, tech billionaire Elon Musk needs to install antennas around the world.
A village in northern France is hoping he will decide to keep these antennas out.
Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron (population 350) isn’t too thrilled to have been chosen as the ground station for Musk’s Starlink project for broadband from space.
“This project is completely new. We have no idea of the effects of these signals,” said Noemie Brault, a 34-year-old deputy mayor of the village just 20 kilometers from the majestic Mont Saint-. Michel Abbey on the English Channel.
“As a precaution, the local council said no,” she said.
Musk, founder of SpaceX and electric car maker Tesla, plans to use thousands of satellites to bring high speed internet to remote areas around the world.
It’s a high-stakes battle he is waging with fellow billionaire colleague Jeff Bezos of Amazon and London-based startup OneWeb.
Antennas on the ground pick up the signals and forward them to individual user connections that are connected by cables.
Starlink’s contractor had already received French approval to install nine “radomes” – three-meter-high globes to protect the antennas – in Saint-Senier, one of four sites planned for France.
In December, Saint-Senier issued a decree to block construction in the field.
However, the rejection was based on a technical issue and contractor Sipartech informed AFP that it intended to re-submit its request, which the council is unlikely to be able to block.
“That worries us because we don’t have any data,” said Brault, herself a farmer, about the possible effects of the signals on human or animal health.
“And when you hear that he wants to implant a chip in people’s brains, it’s scary,” she said, referring to Musk’s Neuralink project.
– ‘Not technophobic’ –
Francois Dufour, a member of the Green Council and retired farmer, believes residents have cause for concern.
“We have already seen the risks posed by electromagnetic waves on power lines that have bothered many farmers in the region,” he said.
Also: “Social networks, the Internet, they already exist – why do we have to look for the Internet on the moon?” he said.
France’s national radio frequency agency ANFR, which has approved Starlink’s transmitters, says they pose no risk to residents, not least because they will emit directly into the sky.
There are already around 100 similar locations across France, dating from the first satellite launches 50 years ago.
That didn’t convince Jean-Marc Belloir (57), who fears that his cows will produce less milk.
“We’re always online on our farm. My cows are connected to each other. My smart watch warns me when they calve,” said Belloir. “But when you see the range of these antennas, you have to look for the possible effects.”
Nevertheless, he named his newest calf “SpaceX du Beuvron” and combined Musk’s company with the name of the stream that runs through his village.
“We’re not attacking Elon Musk,” said Anne-Marie Falguieres, who lives with her husband and two children just 60 meters from the future Starlink station.
“We’re not technophobes. I’m a guide in the bay, I have a website, my husband works from home. But these antennas are completely new, at least in France, and we want to know whether they are dangerous or not,” said they.
She also thinks the project is hardly necessary and should not interest many, based on reports from the USA.
“In the trial period, you had to pay $ 500 for the court, and then you had to pay $ 100 a month for a subscription,” she said. “I don’t think anyone can pay for it.”