Telesat wins $86M for next-gen LEO expansion in Ontario

Ontario, Canada cityscape
The investment will go toward setting aside 40 gigabits of broadband capacity on Telesat Lightspeed for local service provider use for five years. (Pixabay)

The government in Ontario, Canada, is investing more than $86.7 million (U.S.) in Telesat’s next-generation low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network, Telesat Lightspeed.

According to a press release, Ontario’s investment means it will ensure a dedicated high-speed satellite bandwidth for local ISPs to purchase at reduced rates, so they can provide affordable high-speed connectivity, including LTE and 5G, to various communities across the province.

Specifically, the investment will go toward setting aside 40 gigabits of broadband capacity on Telesat Lightspeed for local service provider use for five years.

The program also will help business in the area, as it will bring about $20 million in capital expenditures, including a state-of-the-art gateway landing station at Telesat’s Allan Park teleport near Hanover, along with the expansion of the company’s operations in Ottawa.

“Supporting Telesat is an investment in economic growth and good jobs in Ontario now and on the horizon,” said Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli in a statement. “This is an investment in continued research and development, and the commercialization of satellite technologies in Ontario with economic benefits that will resonate in communities across the province.”

As part of the partnership, Telesat said it will increase its Ontario-based staff by about 35%, growing to around 400 skilled jobs, and invest $15.9 million in capital expenditures for expansion of its Ontario facilities. 

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Plans call for the satellite network to go into service in the first half of 2024.

Ontario’s grand plans

The investment builds on existing initiatives that already are expanding high-speed internet in communities across the province, according to the government.  

In March, Ontario announced a commitment of more than $3 billion to connect every region to high-speed internet by the end of 2025. It’s described as the largest single investment in high-speed internet, in any province, by any government in Canadian history. Ontario claims it is now one of the few jurisdictions in Canada with its own proactive plan to achieve full connectivity.

In late July, the province announced a joint provincial and federal investment in 58 new projects to bring high-speed internet to up to 280,000 rural households in hundreds of communities through the provincial Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program and the federal Universal Broadband Fund programs.