Weak Internet at the South Pole | Polarjournal
For months, absolute darkness reigns at the Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole during the polar night. (Photo: NSF)

While the sun has reached its highest point here, it is gloomy in Antarctica, there is polar night. At the South Pole, at Amundsen Scott Base, dawn doesn’t start again until early August, before the sun first rises at 04:48 on September 21 and doesn’t set again until September 21. Now would be the time to watch movies during spare time. But it won’t always work unfortunately – the only connection to civilization is via satellites, and most of the bandwidth is used for science.

Antoinette Traub and Josiha Horneman are two ‘overwinterers’ at the Admunsen-Scott South Pole Station. (Photo: Antoinette Traub)

But Amundsen Scott Base employees can’t rely on downloading movies from Netflix for entertainment. That’s because the Internet is too slow to stream anything, said Josiah Horneman, a physician assistant who works at the station.

Antarctica is not connected to the network of underwater cables that transport data around the world. For example, all research facilities in Antarctica rely on satellites.

For about five hours a day, the U.S. military ‘Defense Satellite Communication System’ provides Amundsen-Scott Base with most of its bandwidth for the day. But most of it is used by science. This means that each person gets very little bandwidth for personal use. Uploading a TikTok video takes about 20 to 30 minutes, Horneman said.

Two other satellites provide internet outside of these five hours, but this is extremely slow and is mainly used for sending emails.

The staff has an in-house popcorn machine. So movie nights can be celebrated just like at home. (Photo: Josiah Horneman)

That doesn’t mean we 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 Movie Sunday,” Horneman reported in an email to news platform Insider. The 2017 Netflix show “Dark” was particularly popular this season, he said.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal; Original text: Marianne Guenot, Business Insider

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