What Does Regulatory Approval Mean For SpaceX’s Starlink In Canada?


Canada recently authorized Starlink’s satellite-based internet, but what has to happen before SpaceX launches the service for eager Canadians?

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-based internet may be coming to Canada sooner than expected, with the regulatory paperwork that was holding up progress on the venture having now been cleared. However, it isn’t as simple as flipping a switch to enable Canadians to sign up for the eagerly anticipated option for rural broadband. There is a quite literal need for groundwork to be done in order to reach the people who need the service most.

Canada is among the largest countries in the world, yet has a relatively small population. This makes nationwide infrastructure more challenging. Of course, there are denser city and suburban regions that have easy access to gigabit fiber speeds and, in general, Canada has good LTE coverage. In many Canadian provinces and territories, large groups of residents are classified as living in rural areas. That means internet access may be limited to dial-up speeds or that consumers become dependent upon wireless data, which often has data caps. The Canadian government recognizes the need to serve its residents better and has given Starlink approval for Basic International Telecommunications Services.

Related: Tesla Owner Takes Starlink Beta On A Road Trip To Test Network Coverage

Now that the SpaceX satellite-based internet venture Starlink has regulatory approval to operate in Canada, work can begin on taking the next steps toward launching this much-needed service. It will take some time, though, so those needing internet access now will need to rely upon existing services. The first to get access will likely be those that live closer to the US/Canada border, as no ground station gateways have been built in Canada yet. This means access will be quite limited and won’t offer the performance that will become possible after more gateways are installed in Canada.

Timetable For Starlink Canada

Rocket Launch With Starlink Satellites


Currently, there has been no formal timetable announced for Starlink to arrive in Canada, though SpaceX founder Elon Musk has expressed his happiness at receiving approval. Starlink only recently began offering a public beta service in the US, so it could be months before the service is offered to more than a few in Canada. Ground-based gateways will need to be built within Canada in order to send high-bandwidth internet to orbiting satellites. Since the satellites cannot communicate with one another, there is no way to extend internet access to a new area without a line of sight ground connection via the physical gateway.

In the future, SpaceX hopes to allow inter-satellite communication, which would allow worldwide coverage at a much faster pace. Unfortunately, those with the greatest need for Starlink’s satellite-based internet will have to wait for a ground station to be constructed or for the satellites to be upgraded with this new linking feature. This is still exciting news and plenty of Canadians are certain to sign up as soon as the service becomes available.

Next: Elon Musk Warns Lowering Starlink Cost Is A Technical Challenge

Source: Starlink, ISED Canada


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Updated: November 8, 2020 — 12:07 pm

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