Alberta launches pilot program to bring Starlink internet to rural communities

The Alberta provincial government has picked SpaceX’s Starlink to launch a pilot program aimed at providing high-speed internet access to underserved rural communities. The pilot program is being launched as part of the government’s commitment to connecting every part of Alberta by 2027.

The three rural communities participating in the pilot program are the County of Forty Mile, County of Warner No. 5, and Cardston County. These areas, where traditional land-based internet infrastructure is challenging, will test the capabilities of Starlink’s satellite internet technology as an alternative to fiber and fixed wireless technologies.

The pilot program not only addresses the immediate connectivity needs of these communities but also serves as a stepping stone for future initiatives. Feedback collected from the program will play a crucial role in shaping upcoming programs that aim to connect more underserved and difficult-to-reach communities across the province.

“Advancing satellite internet technology in Alberta is an important milestone and an innovative way to achieve our goal of universal connectivity by 2027. Today, connectivity is everything and Alberta’s government is proud to provide rural Alberta with another option to eliminate the connectivity gap,” said Minister of Technology and Innovation, Nate Glubish.

Residents and businesses within the designated areas of the three counties have until March 31, 2024, to apply for the pilot program on the Alberta website. Eligible participants can order Starlink equipment and apply for a rebate of up to $1,000, covering the cost of the hardware, shipping, and taxes.

The benefits of bringing Starlink to rural areas of Alberta go beyond just providing reliable high-speed internet access. The government says the pilot program is expected to generate up to $1.7 billion in GDP, with a 5% boost to the agricultural sector from the adoption of new technologies.

By providing high-speed internet access, the pilot program aims to create up to 2,000 long-term service industry jobs in rural communities and improve access to remote education for over 120,000 students.

Alberta isn’t the first province to launch such a program. Provinces like Quebec and Nova Scotia also invested in using Starlink to bridge the digital divide in remote areas.

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