The Alberta government has announced its support for Starlink, the low-orbit satellite internet service by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, by providing hardware rebates for residents and businesses in two remote areas along the southern border.
The pilot project will test the use of satellite internet technology in areas where land-based infrastructure is not yet viable. Residents and businesses in County of Forty Mile, County of Warner No. 5, and Cardston County can apply to be a part of the pilot. The goal is to enable these communities to access high-speed internet and embrace the benefits of technology for greater efficiency and innovation, especially in the agricultural sector.
Starlink currently has over 3,200 satellites in orbit, providing high-speed, broadband internet to remote areas worldwide. The Starlink hardware, including the self-aligning dish, mounts, and cables, is directly shipped from the company to customers. As long as there is a clear view of the sky, most remote properties can access the internet service.
The cost of the Starlink service is $140 per month, offering unlimited data, no contract, and download speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps. The Alberta government has mentioned that other providers such as Telesat’s Lightspeed and Amazon’s Kuiper may offer services in the future.
The pilot project aims to gather information on uptake, usability, and capacity before potentially expanding the program to other areas of the province. The feedback received will help shape future programs and advance satellite internet technology in Alberta.
Under the pilot, eligible participants need to purchase new high-speed satellite internet service from Starlink and can apply for a rebate of up to $1,000 that covers the cost of the hardware, shipping, and taxes. The program is part of the Alberta Broadband Strategy, which aims to achieve universal connectivity across the province by 2027.
Starlink has been instrumental in providing high-speed internet to rural areas in Canada, including during emergencies like wildfires. Other provinces, such as Quebec and Nova Scotia, have also invested in Starlink to connect remote homes and businesses.
The Alberta government hopes that achieving universal coverage and adoption of high-speed internet will create more tech jobs in rural areas and improve access to telehealth and remote education for thousands of people. The launch of this program is timely due to delays in the approval of fiber and broadband projects by the federal government.