Alberta Launches SpaceX Starlink Internet Pilot with Rebate

The Alberta government has launched a pilot program to deploy SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Intenet for remote and underserved communities, aiming to achieve universal high-speed internet access across the province by 2027.

This move comes as federal projects and funding allocation face delays. The Starlink pilot targets specific regions, including County of Forty Mile, County of Warner No. 5, and Cardston County, where residents and businesses can apply to participate.

“Advancing satellite internet technology in Alberta is an important milestone and an innovative way to achieve our goal of universal connectivity by 2027. Today, connectivity is everything and Alberta’s government is proud to provide rural Alberta with another option to eliminate the connectivity gap,” said Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation in a statement.

The pilot program aims to bridge the digital divide by providing an alternative to fibre and fixed wireless technologies, focusing on areas where land-based internet infrastructure is currently not possible or costly. Eligibility is restricted to underserved households and businesses in designated areas.

“Access to high-speed internet is vital to economic growth in rural communities, and this pilot program represents another way that communities that don’t have fibre connections can get access to critical connectivity quickly,” said Shauna Feth, president and CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.

“We are thrilled for our fellow residents in the southern reaches of the County of Forty Mile to have the chance to experience high-speed internet, opening up new possibilities in their farming and ranching endeavours. This advancement ensures that even in our rural landscape, where connectivity has been a challenge, our agricultural community can harness the benefits of technology for greater efficiency and innovation. This is not just about connectivity, it’s about cultivating a technology-enabled agricultural landscape for generations to come,” said Stacey Barrows, reeve of the County of Forty Mile No. 8 in a statement.

Eligible Albertans can order Starlink equipment and apply for a rebate of up to $1,000, covering the cost of hardware, shipping, and taxes. Eligible households and businesses need to purchase a Starlink satellite internet kit from November 16, 2023 to February 16, 2024.

Those eligible must apply for a rebate from December 15, 2023 to March 31, 2024. Currently, Starlink hardware is on sale in Canada for $499 (or refurbished hardware at $250). This rebate makes the Starlink kit completely free, aside from the monthly internet fee of $140.

“Starlink is designed to endure the elements – it can melt snow and withstand sleet, heavy rain, and harsh winds,” explains SpaceX, referring to its Starlink dish that automatically aims itself to passing satellites in the sky.

Alberta points out that SpaceX’s Starlink is the only operating high-speed low-earth-orbit service in Alberta, but future services from providers like Telesat’s Lightspeed and Amazon’s Kuiper may also qualify for rebates. However, it’s worth noting Lightspeed, which is partially backed by Canadian taxpayers and Kuiper still need to launch satellites into space (SpaceX will be launching Lightspeed satellites).

The Alberta Broadband Strategy focuses on enhancing access to reliable high-speed internet (minimum 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload) for remote and rural communities, with a provincial goal of full connectivity by 2027.

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