Tesla Applies for Telecom License with CRTC in Canada

Tesla has applied for a Basic International Telecommunications Service (BITS) licence in Canada — reports the Financial Post.

BITS licence holders are allowed “to manage or operate or resell” international telecommunications services in Canada. They are allowed to transmit telecommunications traffic between Canada and any other country.

According to an application filed by Tesla Motors Canada ULC with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on September 15, the all-electric automaker is seeking a telecom licence to provide machine-to-machine cellular data service in the country, enabling telemetry data transmission and in-vehicle infotainment access (including internet access).

“Tesla does not, and does not intend to, own or operate transmission facilities in Canada,” said Keith Rose, a lawyer representing Tesla on the application, in a letter to the CRTC. Tesla is also seeking the licence to offer mobile terminating SMS to wake up vehicles, Rose said.

Mark Goldberg, a Toronto-based telecom analyst, said Tesla’s plan appears to be “no different from GM,” a fellow automaker that renewed an identical CRTC licence for its OnStar connectivity service in 2017.

General Motors’ OnStar allows car owners to contact emergency services, unlock their cars if they forget their keys inside, and shut the vehicle off if it is stolen.

Tesla currently uses AT&T roaming to provide its “Premium Connectivity” data service in Canada. Goldberg said Tesla could pivot to Starlink — a high-speed satellite broadband service from SpaceX, another of Elon Musk’s ventures.

SpaceX recently expanded Starlink coverage to northern Canada, including the entirety of Nunavut, and plans to enable Starlink service on moving vehicles by December. However, Goldberg noted that “mobile communications with a low earth orbit satellite… is a very different engineering challenge.”

“Teslas today are equipped with antennas compatible with mobile networks, so I would expect Tesla to be striking commercial deals with one or more companies in the mobile industry.”

A spokesperson for the CRTC said BITS licences are usually granted within 21 days of the comment deadline if an application receives no adverse comments. Tesla’s application is open for comments on the CRTC’s website until December 2.