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OneWeb signs $50 million deal with Galaxy Broadband

Elon Musk now has broadband competition in the skies over northern Canada.

A new player will soon offer access to high-speed internet in remote and rural communities: Ontario’s Galaxy Broadband has just announced it is teaming up with U.K.-based OneWeb in a $50 million U.S. multi-year deal to provide low-orbit satellite internet service in direct competition with Musk’s Starlink.

Rollout of the service is already underway in Nunavut, said Galaxy founder and CEO Rick Hodgkinson, with a target of all 25 communities being connected by year end.

Galaxy already has commercial hubs in 75 largely rural locations throughout Canada connecting anywhere from 30 to 800 users at each site.

“Right now, we are 100 per cent focused on Nunavut because they’re in desperate need,” said Hodgkinson. “Access to broadband internet is an essential service that supports education, health care, commerce and general well-being.

“There are numerous communities throughout Canada that do not have access to broadband internet, with the challenge in Nunavut being particularly acute as the Territory is 100 per cent dependent on satellite connectivity services.”

Howard Stanley, a vice-president at OneWeb, said some Canadian rural communities are “starved for bandwidth … “there’s a lot of real estate in Canada that is underconnected. It’s an area that needs to be serviced.”

While customers in remote or rural communities have raved about Starlink’s high-speed access, it comes at a high cost with set-up fees running more than $800 and monthly fees around $140.

Hodgkinson would not says how much its new service will cost, adding “anything done in the satellite space will be more expensive than running a wire. It will be comparable to any distribution system that offers cable, fibre, or wireless to the home. The pricing will be less than Starlink in some circumstances, and more in others.”

OneWeb and Galaxy will offer broadband internet speeds of at least 50 MBps for download speeds and 10 MBps for uploads, “if not more,” Hodgkinson said.

Stanley claims their model is more economically savvy than Starlink, giving them a competitive edge.

Starlink services residences using a satellite dish and router to the home, whereas OneWeb and Galaxy Broadband use existing infrastructure in the community to provide satellite service to more people instead of just individual households.

“We don’t go directly to residential users,” Stanley said. “Starlink works more on a carrier scale, serving that individual home. We work to service the community.”

Hodgkinson says that while Starlink might work better for cottage owners who need better connectivity during weekend stays, it’s not the best answer for remote regions, where thousands of people need service.

For now, OneWeb and Galaxy aren’t interested in offering services to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, where many people have plenty of options.

Because Canada has 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 are focused on underserved communities, low earth orbit satellites provide another layer of protection to other internet service providers,’ he added. “When Rogers or Bell shuts down because of a storm, we can add another layer of resiliency to the telecom infrastructure. That’s an exciting opportunity.” The Star

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