Quebec will connect 10,000 homes to high-speed Internet with the help of SpaceX

Stephane Rolland, The Canadian Press

The Legault government will use the services of a company of Tesla founder Elon Musk to fulfill its promise to provide high-speed Internet access in underserved areas before the end of his term. A little over 10,000 remote homes will be connected by the service of the American company.

Spacelink’s low-orbit satellites, operated by SpaceX, were the best technological solution for connecting the most difficult-to-reach homes via fiber optics, defends the Prime Minister’s parliamentary assistant, a high-end Internet component speed, Gilles Bélanger, during a press conference in Sherbrooke on Monday. Due to its geographical remoteness, some homes can hardly be connected to a fiber optic network, he explained.

“The only solution to connect these orphaned homes is the SpaceX solution. I don’t make a connection to Elon Musk, I make the connection to the technology solution, which is the most advanced.

If fiber optics were prioritized when possible, homes that would be connected to high-speed satellite Internet would have an equally good connection, says Mr. Bélanger. Starlink will be able to offer a download speed of 100 megabits (Mbit / s) while a connection is considered high speed from 50 Mbit / s. “People often confuse the old high-orbit satellite with the new low-orbit satellite. There will be no problem with the quality of Internet service.”

Quebec is therefore providing $ 50 million in funding to enable the deployment of Starlink’s satellite broadcasting service. The government expects to connect 10,200 homes south of Parallel 57 on September 30, 2022. $ 9.5 million will also be provided to households to cover the total cost of purchasing reception equipment.

The award of the contract to an American company raises doubts, believes the leader of the official opposition, Dominique Anglade, who stated in a press conference that he had not had the opportunity to know all the details of the agreement. “I would have preferred to do business with people who are here in Quebec. Understanding the need to do business with this company when we have it here in Quebec is the first question I would have asked the government.

The executive secretary general of the Quebec Executive Council, Stéphane Le Bouyonnec, responded that local businesses would have been prioritized when possible. “We gave everything we could to companies in Quebec and Canada. The big players, but also the smaller ones.

A race before the election

The Legault government also anticipates that it will have achieved its goal of providing high-speed Internet access to 250,000 homes by the end of September, before the end of its term. This figure includes the 10,000 households that will connect with the Starlink service

These homes must have access to a connection of at least 50 Mbit / s download and 10 Mbit / s upload, with unlimited data transfer capacity.

Mr Bélanger would have liked to launch the Starlink deal a little earlier, but the conflict in Ukraine has forced him to delay his plans by a few months, he says. The US company left capacity to the Ukrainian government, which needed satellites to defend itself from the Russian invasion. “I think it was a good move on our part to delay a few months.”

The presentation of an interactive map where we can monitor the deployment of high-speed Internet throughout Quebec was also announced on Monday. The map will track the connection status of an address, municipality, or region.

Quebec had budgeted $ 1.3 billion to speed up the connection of remote regions.

At a press conference, Mr. Le Bouyonnec specified that approximately $ 1.1 billion has been pledged, including Monday’s announcement. The federal government contributed approximately $ 470 million to this funding, raising Quebec’s share to about $ 610 million.

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