Federal government invests $1.4B in rural and northern high-speed internet

Money to help fund constellation of low Earth orbit satellites

A satellite in low Earth orbit. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

By David Lochead

The federal government has signed an agreement to invest $1.4 billion into providing better internet access to rural and northern Canadians.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne made the announcement Thursday.

The money will go to communications company Telesat to help fund its low Earth satellite constellation, Telesat Lightspeed, in the form of a $790-million repayable loan and $650-million preferred share equity investment.

Low Earth orbit satellites orbit 35 times closer to Earth than regular satellites. By being so close, they can send and receive information faster.

“This technology will help the government reach its goal of connecting all Canadian households to high-speed internet by 2030,” states the release, “Including many Indigenous communities throughout the North and near north.”

Telesat has staff stationed in Nunavut.

The company expects to have the satellites operational by 2024, with the intention of eventually reaching 40,000 people.

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(22) Comments:

  1. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    They could fund a fibre connection to Nunavut but that would make too much sense.

    • Posted by Captain obvious on

      Can someone tell our GN this? Nunavik Government is taking advantage of the federal government funding for infrastructure fibre infrastructure, would of been great if our GN could have partnered with them and connected us also.
      Our expensive internet has been crap with this weather the last few weeks.

      I wonder who feel asleep at the wheel with our GN?

  2. Posted by Consistency on

    I would rather keep the speeds we have now and get $1.4 billion in housing.

    • Posted by Big Difference on

      To Consistency and Red Bear (below),
      If you read the article you’d see that $790 million is a repayable loan and $650 million in an equity investment. So the government will get $790 million back, and own $650 million worth of Telesat, which they technically can sell later on an hypothetically get their money back.
      Housing, on the other hand, would be $1.4 billion spent that they won’t get back and, if it was all public housing, would take another $60-$70 million a year to manage and maintain.

  3. Posted by Red Bear on

    $1,400,000,000 for internet
    $10,000,000 for housing

    Nice to see the federal government has its priorities straight.

    • Posted by North? on

      I havent read the scope of work so I could be wrong, but I don’t think North just means Nunavut. Rural and northern Canadians could mean anything north of Toronto really!

  4. Posted by SHOW ME THE MONEY on

    Cool 1.4 billion dollars for 40000 people so telesat can be three years behind Starlink. Save the 35000 dollars per person this will cost and just cover the cost of the Starlink equipment. This is just another way to continue the Nwtel monopoly in the north.

    • Posted by quidproquo on

      Telesat and Nwtel need something to show for all that lobbying.

    • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

      Totally agree. The federal government purports to be in favour of competition but it sure seems to love monopolies even more.

    • Posted by nahh on

      Starlink requires that you be able to mount a dish with a Southern exposure. How’s that going to work for people who live in apartment buildings or who aren’t allowed to mount equipment on their homes?

      Funding telesat’s LEO is the right move here. Telesat will sell their connectivity to ISPs and let those ISPs handle the last-mile delivery.

      As to your comment about being 3 years behind Starlink, Telesat already has part of their LEO constellation in orbit and already have the laser interlink technology they need to relay to a fibre downlinked groundstation. Telesat’s orbital planes are also better suited to provide connectivity to Northern Canada. None of Starlink’s birds are currently in an orbit that can service us.

      • Posted by OneWeb on

        If Starlink is not the answer, OneWeb is. They recently signed a MOU with NortwesTel. Unless that MOU states OneWeb cannot partner with any other telecommunication companies, it seemed like a natural fit to fund that project as its ready to serve the North this year.

  5. Posted by Trash on

    Why not fibre optics?

  6. Posted by Not just Nunavut on

    This is to appeal to both Northerners and rural Southern Canadians. There are millions of Canadians in rural areas that have poor internet, this is not just funding to cover Nunavut.

    • Posted by Geography is Hard on

      Nor only Nunavut, it is a ‘northern’ initiative.

      When did ‘northern’ come to equal Nunavut in the minds of Nunavummiut?

  7. Posted by Satellite on

    Just like the “Harper” government heavily invested on satellites

  8. Posted by waste on

    A waste of money, SpaceX and Amazon are already doing this. By the time telesat is up and running we will have already bought internet from the other two. Beside Telesat will sell to Northwestel who will jack up the price like they do not. Let’s polute the sky more with another system

  9. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    hey that’s awesome, people can have fast internet in their run down mouldy homes.

    • Posted by Unreal on

      Hey bud, why not look after your home? Why do you need the government to do it for you? Should they come do your laundry too?

      • Posted by Northern Inuit on

        we have our own home, thank you. (well the bank for our Mortgage but that’s another story)

        it’s just comical what this liberal government is trying to accomplish by the rash of funding announcements in the month before the Election.

        it’s funny how most of these promises are the same ones rehashed from last election because they never followed through. clean drinking water and removing all boil water advisories promised in 2015 anyone?

  10. Posted by Still here on

    Well, are we truly to believe that this will happen to benefit northern people or will it benefit telesat? the only reason this has even come out is because the northern internet providers are scared absolutely poopless that they will have a mass exodus of subscribers to Starlink. 20 years in the north should provide me enough experience to know this is going to be a boondoggle paying for peoples lives in the south, not in the north, go starlink go!

  11. Posted by Follow the Money on

    This announcement is just like the one I received in the mail today from the Federal government. They say they are going to give me $500 taxable benefit.
    Sounds likethe Liberal govrnment is trying to bribe me with my own money.
    Can anyone say “Federal election about to be announced.”
    Perhaps our new Governor General will refuse to disolve parliament. She can ask if anyone else wants to try to form a government.
    The Bloc, the NDP, and the Conservatives are unlikely to form a formal alliance, but they might decide to work together informally, unofficially. Stranger things have happened.

    • Posted by S on

      Good post, FTM

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