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Serving Those Near And Far

By | October 10, 2000

      Telesat Canada is a company that was originally formed as a domestic satellite organization to provide basic services to all Canadians. In 1969, when the company was formed, the government was espousing its goal to provide every one of its citizens with access to basic communications. Telesat Canada was an important player in this initiative and a major contributor in making Canada one of the most connected countries in the world. Now that deregulation is the name of the game, the company is poised to take advantage of spreading its expertise into other countries.

      “As we look forward,” says Paul Bush, vice president of corporate development, “we are building satellites that will provide coverage of not just Canada, but the United States, Mexico and South America. With the launch of Anik F1 and Anik F2, our plan is to expand services into these other regions.”

      While the company has been thus far mostly a Canadian company serving Canadian clients, Bush is not overly concerned about expanding business worldwide. “First of all, I think Telesat Canada has quite a good worldwide reputation,” he says. “Our biggest challenge will be moving into new markets, but in the satellite industry we are very well known. And in terms of putting our technology in other countries, I really don’t foresee any technical challenges–Brazil is just a little warmer than Canada. Our technology works fine in the harshest climates.”

      Unlike most of its Canadian counterparts, Telesat Canada does not have the luxury of a history of export experience, although its consulting arm has helped satellite operators the world over. However, the company is based in Canada, which does have a history of export ingenuity, and Bush is confident that Telesat’s technology will speak for itself. Furthermore, with offices opening up around the world, and distribution partners being set up, Telesat Canada will more than likely continue to expand its reputation as a premiere satellite provider.

      A Reputation For Innovation

      CPI Canada is another well-known name in the Canadian satellite arena, providing medium power klystrons, primarily in the C- and Ku-bands. The company was founded in Canada in 1955, but did not become involved in satellite technology until the ’70s, according to Joe Caldarelli, president of CPI Canada. He agrees with the assessment that the Canadian satellite industry was forced into early overseas expansion because the Canadian requirement for such specialized products was not sufficient to sustain the company. This doesn’t seem to have hurt CPI Canada’s business any, since the company is now the largest supplier of medium power klystrons in the world, according to Caldarelli.

      He believes the Canadian reputation for satellite expertise provides a “minor assistance” when conducting negotiations overseas. But Caldarelli views his company’s good reputation as stemming from a perception of the overall North American region as a hotbed of satellite expertise and innovation, rather than just Canada. In his opinion, the global political climate is evolving to make Canada’s historic neutrality less of a factor. “There are a few parts of the world where being Canadian is still an advantage, but this is fading,” Caldarelli says.

      He does observe that the Canadian satellite market has evolved into one where companies have carved out niches in specialized areas, rather than trying to do it all. He points out that there are no more Canadian prime contractors for satellites, but there are half a dozen strong players in the components market, CPI Canada among them. All of these companies have had to compete in the global market to win their success. “Being Canadian never hurts, and even helps a tiny bit,” Caldarelli concludes.

      Made In Canada

      Canada is often overlooked as a major force in the space race. But, it shouldn’t be. With advances in technology as well as deregulation melting the borders, Canadian-based satellite companies are poised to become an even more formidable force in the telecommunications industry in the 21st century.

      Katie McConnell is a contributing editor to Via Satellite. She is based in Chicago, IL, just south of her Canadian neighbors, and can be reached at:

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