Elon Musk now has broadband competition in the skies over northern Canada.
A new player will soon provide high-speed Internet access in remote and rural communities: Galaxy Broadband in Ontario has announced that it is teaming up with UK-based OneWeb in a multi-year, $50 million deal to provide low-orbit satellite Internet in direct competition with Starlink of Musk.
A launch of the service is already underway in Nunavut, with all 25 communities targeted by the end of the year, said Rick Hodgkinson, Galaxy founder and CEO.
Galaxy already has business hubs in 75 largely rural locations across Canada connecting between 30 and 800 users per location.
“At the moment we are 100 percent focused on Nunavut because they need it most,” Hodgkinson said. Broadband Internet access is an essential service that supports education, health care, commerce and public welfare.
“There are many communities across Canada that do not have access to broadband internet, with the challenge in Nunavut being particularly acute as the province relies 100 percent on satellite communication services.”
Some rural Canadian communities are “hungry for bandwidth…” A lot of real estate in Canada is unconnected, said Howard Stanley, vice president at OneWeb. It’s an area that needs service.”
While customers in remote or rural communities are interested in Starlink’s high-speed access, it does come at a price high cost With a setup fee of over $800 and a monthly fee of around $140.
Hodgkinson didn’t say how much its new service would cost, adding that “anything done in satellite space will be more expensive than running a wire. It will be similar to any distribution system that provides cable, fiber or wireless to the home. The price will be lower than Starlink in some circumstances, and more.” In other cases.
OneWeb and Galaxy will offer broadband internet speeds of at least 50Mbps for download speeds and 10Mbps for upload, “if not more,” Hodgkinson said.
Stanley claims their model is more economically savvy than Starlink, which gives them a competitive advantage.
Starlink uses residential services using a satellite dish and router to the home, while OneWeb and Galaxy Broadband use existing infrastructure in the community to provide satellite service to more people rather than just individual households.
“We don’t go directly to residential users,” said Stanley. “Starlink operates more on a carrier scale, serving that individual home. We operate to serve the community.”
Hodgkinson says that while Starlink may work better for country homeowners who need better connectivity during weekend stays, it’s not the best answer for remote areas, where thousands of people need the service.
Right now, OneWeb and Galaxy aren’t interested in providing services to Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, where many people have plenty of options.
As Canada opened its doors to Starlink and the OneWeb-Galaxy partnership, Stanley says the country has become the largest adopter of low-Earth orbit satellites.
“While we focus on disadvantaged communities, LEO satellites provide another layer of protection for other ISPs,” he added. “Whenever Rogers or Bell shuts down due to a storm, we can add another layer of resilience to our communications infrastructure. This is an exciting opportunity.”
Join the conversation