Featured Image Source: James Cumming/SpaceX
In June, SpaceX submitted a regulatory filing with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to apply for a license to offer Starlink satellite broadband internet in Canada. SpaceX is looking forward to providing internet service worldwide, primarily in places where internet is unreliable and inaccessible to close the digital divide. The aerospace company hopes to offer connection in rural areas of the northern United States and Canada before this year ends. SpaceX already has approval to operate in the U.S. but not in Canada.
The license SpaceX is seeking in Canada is a Basic International Telecommunications Services (BITS) license. If approved, it would authorize the company to beam Starlink’s data – “telecommunications traffic between Canada and any other country,” the filing reads. More than 1,200 Canadian residents voiced their support for SpaceX Starlink in the Canadian Telecommunications Commission website, including the municipal councilor for Pointe-Fortune, Quebec, Canada, Kenneth Flack. "I encourage the CRTC to accelerate the acceptance of this application for provisioning of services such as this without delay, as it will also provide the capability for our communities to deal with and recover from this pandemic. The SpaceX – Starlink Internet Services project as a whole, specifically benefits those most in need, and the most disadvantaged," Flack stated in June.
During a virtual meeting with Canadian officials this month, Conservative shadow Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry James Cumming questioned 'what's the hold up' on giving SpaceX their license. -- "Mr. Speaker the rural broadband expansion has been an unmitigated disaster," he said, "We've heard plenty of big plans from the Liberals over the past 5 years but very little delivery and many unsatisfied internet users. However, a new entrant, SpaceX, may be able to offer connectivity that rural Canadians and their businesses have been desperately needing. They aren't asking for a single cent - just for their license to be approved. When will the Minister get busy and give it the green light?"
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, replied to his question stating -- "Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's passion on this file, and if he'd like a briefing on how we've been moving forward and how we can work together, I am happy to offer it to him," she stated. "Mr. Speaker the needs across the country are diverse. We are in tune with those, and we are looking for diverse partners to make that happen," she added.
On October 1st, Cumming shared a video clip of the meeting via Twitter captioned - "That was a weird way to totally not answer my question..." in reference to Minister Monsef's response. Cumming then called on the public to ask the Liberal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains, "Someone tell Minister Bains to dm me his answer: what's the hold up on giving SpaceX their license to allow StarLink to provide internet to rural Canadians? #ConnectCanada," he wrote, video below.
That was a weird way to totally not answer my question...— James Cumming (@jameskcumming) October 1, 2020
Someone tell Minister Bains to dm me his answer: what's the hold up on giving @SpaceX their license to allow #StarLink to provide internet to rural Canadians? #ConnectCanada pic.twitter.com/pOyUtQOBXZ
SpaceX is deploying Starlink satellites on a monthly basis. There are around 708 internet-beaming Starlink satellites already in low Earth orbit, out of 4,409 that will initially comprise the broadband network. Starlink customers will receive broadband service via user dish terminals (pictured above) that will be easy to install at home without a technician. The company is actively assessing the network's performance that has offered great beta testing results. SpaceX says its service is capable of providing low-latency broadband internet below 30 milliseconds, and download speeds greater than 100 megabits per second. Starlink customers will not only aid in closing the digital divide around the world, but will also support SpaceX's vision to enable humans to live on Mars. Starlink's revenue will provide additional funding to make life multiplanetary.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.