Marisol Martinez was a high school teacher living in rural Mexico when the pandemic forced her school to abruptly switch to remote learning. Martinez lived outside the city in which she teaches, an area with limited internet access. When Martinez was required to teach online, she realized she would need to leave her home in Zempoala to access reliable internet and keep working. That meant leaving her husband and children behind and moving an hour away to the outskirts of Huauchinango, the central Mexican city in Puebla in which she teaches.
Before their separation, Martinez and her family lived in the rugged and predominantly rural Sierra Norte de Puebla Mountain region, an area of peaks, ravines, and rivers. While beautiful, such terrain is challenging for traditional internet providers, which require ground infrastructure to bring services to an area
Historically, the only option for internet connectivity in this rural region was a wireless internet service provider (WISP). It required users to be close to a hotspot, to buy expensive tokens to connect to the internet, and typically provided low speeds and an unreliable connection.
“Then in the middle of the pandemic, Viasat arrived,” Martinez said. “At first, we didn’t have a clue what it was. But we started hearing our neighbors talking about how good and how stable the service was. So, we subscribed, and I was able to come back home. That’s what Viasat allowed me to do.”
Today, in Zempoala and the surrounding area, Viasat provides internet connectivity using advanced satellite equipment and technology. Community residents purchase Viasat’s prepaid internet from a local distributor, which allows them to connect to the Viasat network through a local Wi-Fi connection.
For Martinez, coming home is just the beginning of what Viasat’s service has done for her family of four.
Based on research they did online, the family decided to start a small farm in their backyard.
“The internet helped us learn the techniques of raising animals; now we have chickens, ducks, pigs, and a garden,” Martinez said. “We use most of it for our own consumption and it has greatly improved the quality of our diet. If we have any extra produce, we sell it to other people in our community.”
Martinez’s husband, who is a mechanical engineer, has improved his work skills with information he’s found online, and their two sons rely on Viasat Internet to do homework.
In a short span of time, Martinez has gone from the difficulty of having no internet to an entirely different challenge.
“My older son uses the internet a lot for studying, but recently, he has been too much into games,” she said, laughing. “We’re trying to regulate that a bit.”
Connecting the unconnected
For the Martinez family, Viasat’s connectivity has enabled them to be together again in their small hometown. It’s also given them the ability to apply their curiosity, skills and intelligence to build a better, healthier lifestyle.
A core piece of Viasat’s mission is its ongoing mission to continue to bring those opportunities to individuals and families around the world through affordable, effective satellite connectivity
Viasat connects urban and rural communities worldwide that previously had no or poor-quality internet, and intends to expand those offerings with the launch of its ViaSat-3 global constellation.
“We’re in a unique position to connect communities and people that traditional providers can’t reach because of cost, topography, or a combination of the two,” said Evan Buck, business development for Viasat’s Prepaid Internet. “As we continue to drive down the cost per gigabyte delivered by our technology, we can bridge that gap to connect the users that need it most.”
With the ViaSat-3 constellation, families just like the Martinez’ are expected to gain access to a whole new world of opportunities, from telehealth to education and beyond.