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Canadian Government Pays Telesat $462M for Rural LEO Constellation Services

By Rachel Jewett | November 9, 2020
Photo: Telesat.

A rendering of Telesat LEO constellation. Photo: Telesat.

Telesat and the Canadian government have reached a $462 million (600 million Canadian dollars) agreement to use Telesat’s upcoming Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed broadband across all of Canada. 

Telesat announced Monday that under the agreement, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will have access to a dedicated pool of Telesat LEO capacity sold at reduced rates to serve eligible rural households and Indigenous communities in Canada, only 41% of which have access to reliable broadband internet. Telesat will be eligible to receive amounts under the agreement over a ten-year period once the Telesat LEO constellation enters service. The capacity pool will be available to telecom providers — Telesat will not sell directly to consumers. 

This marks the finalization of a partnership first announced in July 2019

In Monday’s announcement, Telesat said it aims for its service to meet Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) goal of at least 50 Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload speeds with unlimited data. It also aims for mobility service providers to be able to offer LTE services.

Telesat has not yet announced who will manufacture its LEO constellation, but CEO Dan Goldberg said on a recent call with investors that the operator is in “very advanced” discussions with prospective manufacturing and launch vendors and he expects to make some announcements by the end of the year

Telesat LEO has plans for about 300 satellites, and aims to place 78 in orbit in 2022, and 220 more in 2023. The operator has performed 20 tests with different operators and service providers including Telefonica

“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 president and CEO.