By | November 17, 2023
Alberta latest province to bring Starlink high-speed internet to some rural areas |

The Alberta government is joining other provinces in helping Canadians get high-speed internet from Starlink – a low-orbit satellite internet service by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX.

The province announced Thursday it will provide hardware rebates for Albertans living in two remote areas on the southern border.

Residents and Businesses of the County of Forty Mile, County of Warner No. 5 and Cardston County — all located south of Medicine Hat and Lethbridge along the Canada-US border — can apply to be part of the pilot project, which will test the use of satellite internet technology instead of fiber and fixed wireless technologies.

The areas in southern Alberta that can apply to the Starlink pilot project.

The areas in southern Alberta that can apply to the Starlink pilot project.

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The pilot is limited to homes and businesses in two specific areas of the counties where land-based Internet infrastructure is not yet possible or is covered by approved broadband programs, such as the Universal Broadband Fund and the Alberta Broadband Fund.

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“This advancement ensures that even in our rural landscape, where connectivity has been a challenge, our agricultural community can take advantage of technology for greater efficiency and innovation,” said County of Forty Mile No. 8 Reeve Stacey Barrows in a statement.

“This isn’t just about connectivity, it’s about cultivating a technological farming landscape for generations to come.”

Only underserved households and businesses within the designated areas that meet the criteria are eligible for the pilot.

Click to play video: 'SpaceX Launches Latest Batch of Starlink Satellites'

SpaceX launches latest batch of Starlink satellites

SpaceX has more than 3,200 Starlink satellites in orbit, providing high-speed broadband internet to remote corners of the world.

All Starlink hardware – self-adjusting bowl, mounts and cables – is shipped directly from the US company to customers. As long as it has a clear view of the sky, most remote properties can access high-speed Internet.

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The service itself costs $140 a month and comes with unlimited data, no contract and download speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps.

The province said in the future, other providers such as Telesat’s Lightspeed and Amazon’s Kuiper may offer service in Alberta and may qualify for a future rebate program.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Technology and Innovation said the intention is to expand the program eventually, but the purpose of this initial pilot is to gather data on usage, usability and capacity before expanding to other areas of the province.

The pilot will provide feedback that will help shape future programs.

“Advancing satellite Internet technology in Alberta is an important milestone and an innovative way to achieve our goal of universal connectivity by 2027,” said Technology and Innovation Minister Nate Glubish.

The Alberta Broadband Strategy aims to provide access to connectivity across the province by 2027. The goal is for everyone in Alberta to have reliable high-speed Internet of 50 megabits per second download/10 megabits per second upload or better.

Under the pilot project, those eligible must purchase a new high-speed satellite internet service from Starlink between Thursday and until February 16, 2024.

Then, between December 15 and March 31, 2024, they can apply for a rebate of up to $1,000 that covers the cost of the Starlink hardware, shipping and taxes.

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The province could not say why residents in the areas that already own a Starlink system cannot apply for a retroactive discount, but said it may be considered in the future.

For several months earlier this year, SpaceX offered a steep $199 discount on the Starlink hardware for rural Canadians — down from the regular price of more than $750.

Starlink is currently marketing a $499 hardware deal. Shipping is an additional $50.00. The internet connection itself is $140/month.

Installation and monthly service fees are not eligible for the Alberta Government rebate.

Starlink has been a game changer for rural Canadians from coast to coast, as well as the far north, in areas where there are no other high-speed Internet options.

Click to play video: 'Rural Alberta takes matters into its own hands to get high-speed internet'

Rural communities in Alberta are taking matters into their own hands to get high-speed internet

During the August wildfires that forced thousands of people from the Northwest Territories to flee south to Alberta and BC and destroyed a telecommunications fiber optic line, people used Starlink satellite dishes to stay in touch and receive important fire updates.

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Local journalists also used the service to deliver these updates – in the case of Cabin Radio editor Ollie Williams, as they fled down the highway, the Starlink dish in the back of the truck sandwiched between bags of dog food.

Starlink has caught the attention of some provincial governments: last year, Quebec said it would invest $50 million to bring Starlink to about 10,000 remote homes in the province. The residences are located far from the landscape’s fiber optic cable network.

Nova Scotia also offered about 3,700 rural homes and businesses a one-time rebate of up to $1,000 to acquire satellite Internet, saying Starlink was the only company able to meet the required minimum download and upload targets set by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . Commission.

The Alberta government said it hopes within three years of achieving universal coverage and adoption of high-speed internet, it will increase tech jobs in rural areas, as well as increase access to telehealth and distance education for thousands of people.

The program is being launched now as the federal government is holding up approval of additional fiber and broadband projects across Canada, the province said Thursday, citing the Auditor General of Canada, which stated it has “found delays in the rollout of a number of federal connectivity initiatives along with a small percentage of funding is spent under these initiatives, resulting in some Canadians waiting even longer for access to high-speed Internet and mobile cellular connections.”

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The Alberta government said its agreement with the federal government requires their participation in any announcements of additional projects.

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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