Canada’s Telesat to Take on SpaceX and Amazon in Satellite Internet Space Race

Canadian satellite internet company Telesat has accelerated in the race to achieve low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet, pitting them against Elon Musk’s Starlink and Jeff Bezos’s Project Kuiper, both working to offer improved satellite internet connectivity first.

Calling Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for shareholders, Ottawa-based Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg says the company has “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery,” according to Reuters.

Known as “Lightspeed,” Telesat’s constellation will orbit at 1,000 km above Earth, thus resulting in fewer satellites needed for coverage. Starlink satellites hover at 550 km above Earth, and with the lower distance to ground stations can offer lower latency, which is key for video conferencing and online gaming.

While Starlink has a jump on the race to working with consumers – already having a number of users beta testing for them in countries around the world and nearly 1,400 satellites already launched in its constellation – Telesat won’t launch its first batch of 298 satellite until early 2023, with global connectivity being planned for 2024.

The Canadian government previously announced a $600 million CAD investment into Telesat, while Quebec also has pledged $400 million CAD.

Still, the company already has plans to focus on wealthy business clients, many of whom the company has been working with already for some time, rather than focusing only on the consumer market like what Starlink and Project Kuiper plan to do. In other words, you’ll be paying for Telesat through a provider and won’t be able to buy it directly, like Starlink. This extra middle man may result in higher overall costs for consumers.

When talking about using industry knowledge and past clients to maintain its advantage, Goldberg said, “We think we’re in the sweet spot. When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.” Goldberg continued, “We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage.”