No less than 137 million could be paid to SpaceX by the Legault government to ensure access to high-speed internet in underserved regions in Quebec. Quebec gives the green light to a new grant to the company founded by the famous entrepreneur Elon Musk.
According to a recent government decree, up to 15,000 Starlink kits could be acquired by the Quebec state. Nothing has been spent yet, says Gilles Bélanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister, High Speed Internet.
“It’s an agreement where you pay per unit,” he explains in a telephone interview. This comes at a price of around $2000 per hookup. We got a really good price. It is a technology that works well. »
A report from La Presse broadcast last November, however, testified to the failures of this alternative solution. Residents lamented that satellite service did not work everywhere.
The Legault government turned to SpaceX and its constellation of low-orbit telecommunications satellites just over a year ago in the wake of its commitment to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas.
Just over 10,000 homes were affected. A 21.6 million option was activated a few months later for 5,000 additional orphan households. These are places where the wired network connection bill was considered too high.
For these households, the state pays for the Starlink kit ($750, taxes not included), the resident must assume its delivery (about $75) and its installation (which some citizens do themselves). Quebec also provides financial support of $40 per month, to reduce the monthly subscription to $100. On its website, the Canadian subsidiary of the company offers promotions. For example, the starter kit can be acquired for around $350.
This satellite service can offer a speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) of downloading, while a connection is considered high speed from 50 Mbit/s.
Demand has been stronger than initially anticipated, says Bélanger. Another element also prompted the Legault government to release an additional 26 million: Starlink service is now offered north of the 57th parallel.
“We said to ourselves that we could use our stocks [the kits] to connect all Quebecers to the communities in the north, but we lack kits, affirms the debut of Orford. We will also have kits for households currently deemed ineligible. »
Mr. Bélanger suggests that small and medium-sized businesses, such as outfitters, could eventually have access to a government financial boost to access the service offered by Starlink
“Are we going to subsidize them? Give them a discount? We haven’t defined that yet. »
The 26.3 million subsidy approved by the Council of Ministers is to be spread over four years. More than half of the sum is likely to be disbursed before the end of the current fiscal year, which will end on March 31, 2024. According to Mr. Bélanger, this should be the last grant for SpaceX.
Quebec had budgeted 1.3 billion to accelerate the connection of remote regions.