Briefing

Ottawa spending $600 million for access to Telesat’s low-Earth orbit constellation

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The company’s planned 300-satellite network will allow internet service providers (ISPs) to sell high-speed broadband to customers in rural and remote areas of the country. The federal government will pay out the money over 10 years from the $1.7-billion Universal Broadband Fund, announced in the 2019 budget. The company will also receive $85 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund for a $480-million project to develop components for the satellites. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The federal cash injection—and the additional $600 million Telesat expects to make from ISPs as a result—will help pay for its satellite network, which the company has said will require a “multi-billion-dollar investment.” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said the government would “love to build them in Canada,” and is discussing that with the company.   Telesat is competing in a crowded, well-funded space—although, unlike its rivals, it has decades of experience launching and operating satellites, and has 17 traditional ones in orbit. SpaceX has permission for 7,000 low-earth orbit satellites and has already launched 60, while Amazon plans to launch 3,236. And, U.S. firm OneWeb, which has raised US$3.4 billion, will make its network available in Canada’s North by 2021. That’s a year ahead of Telesat, which will reach the “far North” in 2022 and have full-Canada coverage by 2023. Bains said the two sides haven’t yet determined how many communities and homes Telesat’s network will serve; the government typically identifies coverage areas and numbers in its broadband funding announcements.