Science

Living in Antarctica means no streaming thanks to slow internet that’s only up 5 hours a day, according to a man documenting life on a remote research station

Summary List PlacementIt is now winter in Antarctica, which means the sun won't rise until September. But those working at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station can't count on Netflix to keep them entertained during the six-month-long night.  That's because the internet is too slow to stream anything, Josiah Horneman, a physician assistant working at the station, told Insider.  Antarctica has not been connected to the network of underwater cables that carry data around the world. Instead, the remote station relies on satellites to get their internet, as Horneman explains in this TikTok post below:  @joespinstheglobe brief description of our...

The Atmospheric Research Observatory, two-storied industrial building, is pictured here at night in 2018 in front of green auroras lighting up the sky in the background.

Summary List Placement

It is now winter in Antarctica, which means the sun won’t rise until September. But those working at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station can’t count on Netflix to keep them entertained during the six-month-long night. 

That’s because the internet is too slow to stream anything, Josiah Horneman, a physician assistant working at the station, told Insider. 

Antarctica has not been connected to the network of underwater cables that carry data around the world. Instead, the remote station relies on satellites to get their internet, as Horneman explains in this TikTok post below: 

For about five hours a day, the US military Defense Satellite Communications System gives the station the bulk of its bandwidth for the day. But most of that is taken up by science, Horneman said in answer to a viewers’ questions. 

That means each person gets very little bandwidth for personal use. For example, a TikTok video takes about 20 to 30 minutes to upload, he said.

Two other satellites provide internet outside of those five hours, but this is extremely slow and is used mostly to send emails, Horneman said. 

But that doesn’t mean the 39 staff currently working at the station can’t enjoy a show together, as long as they plan ahead and get a DVD. 

“Every Sunday we gather in the movie lounge for Sci-Fi Sundays,” Horneman told Insider in an email. The 2017 Netflix show “Dark” was particularly popular this season, he said. 

On Tuesday nights it’s “Geordie Shore”, the UK equivalent to the reality TV show “Jersey Shore.” 

“Saturday, we’re continuing our weekly run of Marvel movies (chronologically to the timeline, of course) with Ant-Man,” Horneman said.

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