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Canada green lights Telesat broadband

November 10, 2020

By Chris Forrester

The Canadian government is going ahead with its C$600 million (€391m) plan to ‘bridge the digital divide’ for its citizens.

The scheme sees the cash going into satellite operator Telesat which says it will ensure affordable, high-speed broadband connectivity across all of Canada with Telesat’s forthcoming Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.

There was a Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2019 which outlined the basics of the scheme. That has now been ratified.

The agreement enables Internet and mobility service providers to acquire Telesat LEO capacity at substantially reduced rates to bring universal broadband connectivity to rural, Northern and Indigenous communities across Canada. Telesat will be eligible to receive amounts under the agreement over a ten year period once the Telesat LEO constellation enters service.

Telesat estimates that just 41 per cent of Canada’s rural households have access to fast, reliable broadband.

“Telesat LEO will transform connectivity in Canada, and this agreement will bring affordable enterprise grade, high-speed connectivity to underserved Canadians no matter where they live and work,” said Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s President/CEO. “We applaud the Government of Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for leveraging revolutionary technologies like Telesat LEO to drive widespread social and economic benefits. We look forward to working with Canadian service providers to provide this capacity to qualified communities across the country to get all Canadians connected as soon as possible.”

Under the terms of the agreement, a dedicated pool of Telesat LEO rural connectivity capacity will be available to Service Providers at greatly reduced rates on a first come, first served basis to provide connectivity for eligible communities. With Telesat LEO’s high performance network capacity, service providers will offer broadband services to their end users of at least 50/10 Mbps speeds with unlimited data, and mobility service providers will offer LTE services.

Now, all that Telesat has to do is to pick a prime contractor to construct its planned 298 satellites, and to launch them.  Telesat is obliged to have 78 craft n orbit during 2022 and for service to commence by 2023.

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