The Legault government will use the services of Tesla founder Elon Musk’s company to fulfill its promise to provide high-speed Internet access to areas with insufficient coverage before the end of its mandate. Just over 10,000 remote homes will be connected by the US company’s service.
Starlink’s low-Earth orbit satellites, operated by SpaceX, were the best technology solution for connecting the hardest-to-reach households over fiber, Gilles Belanger, the prime minister’s parliamentary assistant for high-speed internet, said on Friday. a press conference in Sherbrooke on Monday.
Due to their geographic remoteness, some homes cannot be connected to a fiber optic network, he added.
“The only solution to connect these orphanages together is the SpaceX solution. I don’t link to Elon Musk, I link to the technological solution, which is the most advanced,” he said.
If fiber is prioritized wherever possible, homes that connect to high-speed internet via satellite will have just as good connectivity, Bélanger said. Starlink can provide 100 megabits (Mbps) download speed while a connection is considered a high speed of 50 Mbps or more.0
“Often people will confuse the old high orbit satellite with the new low orbit satellite. There will be no problem with the quality of the internet service.”
Quebec is therefore providing $50 million in funding for the deployment of Starlink’s satellite transmission service. The government hopes to have connected 10,200 homes south of the 57th parallel by September 30, 2022.
A $9.5 million grant will also be awarded to the targeted households to cover the full cost of purchasing the necessary equipment.
The award of the contract to an American company raises questions with the leader of the official opposition, Dominique Anglade, who said in a press conference that she had not had a chance to hear all the details of the agreement.
“I would rather we had to deal with people who are here in Quebec. To understand the need to do business with this company when we have one here in Quebec, that’s the first question I would have asked the government ,” she said.
Stéphane Le Bouyonnec, deputy secretary general of the Conseil exécutif du Québec, replied that local businesses would have been given priority wherever possible: “We gave everything we could to Quebec and Canadian companies. The big players, but also the smaller ones .”
A RACE FOR THE ELECTION
The Legault government also expects to reach its goal of providing high-speed internet to 250,000 households by the end of September, before the end of its mandate. This figure includes the 10,000 households connected by Starlink
These households must have access to a connection of at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload, with unlimited data transmission capacity.
Bélanger would have liked to launch the Starlink deal earlier, but the conflict in Ukraine forced him to postpone his plans for a few months, he said. The US company left capacity for the Ukrainian government, which needed the satellites to defend against the Russian invasion.
“I think it was a good move on our part to delay for a few months,” he said.
The province also announced Monday the unveiling of an interactive map that will track the rollout of high-speed internet in Quebec. The map allows users to track the connection status for an address, city, or region.
Quebec had budgeted $1.3 billion to speed up the connection of remote areas.
In a press conference, Le Bouyonnec said about $1.1 billion has been committed, including Monday’s announcement. The federal government contributed about $470 million of that funding, bringing Quebec’s share to about $610 million.
— This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 9, 2022.