SAN FRANCISCO, CA: According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, about 100 Starlink internet terminals are presently operational in Iran.
In September, the tycoon vowed to deliver the satellite internet network to the country as Iranian authorities implemented more severe access restrictions, in what activists dubbed an effort to suppress information about widespread rallies.
“We’re getting close to 100 Starlinks operating in Iran,” Musk tweeted on Monday.
Starlink has almost 2,000 small satellites flying a few hundred kilometers above Earth, offering internet connection to consumers on the ground.
The land-based terminals are then linked to simple routers that generate mini WIFI hotspots.
Musk, the controversial entrepreneur, achieved hero status in Ukraine earlier this year after providing thousands of Starlink terminals to the nation in the days following Russia‘s incursion. Ukraine currently has 20,000 of the little white receivers scattered around the country.
Musk’s remark on Monday came in response to a user whose video they claimed was filmed in the “streets of Iran,” where women now had “greater freedom to choose whether or not to cover their hair.”
The statement appeared to link to the demonstrations that rocked Iran and the world in the aftermath of the death in September of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s stringent dress code for women.
According to the UN, Iran has launched a crackdown, detained over 14,000 people and murdering 469 protestors, according to Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR). In early December, the country’s main security authority issued a death toll of more than 200 persons, including security agents.
The government had previously blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp, the only surviving unfiltered social media platforms until last autumn, before cracking down on programs like the Google Play Store and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that aim to evade local access restrictions.
Iranians have long used VPNs to access sites that are restricted in the nation; even government officials, like the foreign minister, have Twitter accounts despite the network being blocked.