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Will Elon Musk Solve Nova Scotia’s Internet Woes?

Look up, look way up as rural Nova Scotians call on Elon Musk to solve their Internet woes. Musk, best known for his companies Tesla and SpaceX, has a plan that is going to help residents of Nova Scotia who can’t access reliable high speed internet.

In 2016, the Federal Government declared high speed internet of 50 Mbit/s was essential for quality of life. They proclaimed it should be a basic service provided to all citizens.

Prior to this, in 2006, the Nova Scotia Government announced that every civic address in Nova Scotia would have broadband internet by the end of 2009. Broadband internet at this time was described as 500 kbit/s upload, 1.5 Mbit/s download. That target was almost reached (99%) after many delays. Technology changes quickly and many in rural Nova Scotia once again found themselves without the reliable high speed internet those in urban areas take for granted.

Many companies such as Eastlink and Bell Aliant will not run fibre lines to streets and neighbourhoods to which they deem there aren’t enough customers to justify the expense.

Where does Elon Musk come in? His company SpaceX has been launching dozens of small satellites so they can start the world’s most advanced broadband internet system. It’s name, Starlink.

Crown corporation, Develop Nova Scotia has taken the reigns on delivering high speed internet to residents and businesses in Nova Scotia that currently do not have access. It’s called the Nova Scotia Internet Initiative. They oversee a $193 million fund set up by the Provincial Government in 2018 to connect those to the Internet who are currently undeserved. SpaceX has been named to a list of companies preapproved to respond to future requests for proposals from Develop Nova Scotia.

Performance will surpass existing satellite internet providers. Current providers are expensive, have bandwidth limits and slow speeds and high latency due to the fact these satellites are much higher in orbit than Starlink’s and take too long to communicate with the user. Starlink satellites will orbit Earth at much lower altitudes than those companies that have come before it.

Set to be available in Canada and the United States in 2020, this may be the answer to rural Nova Scotia’s prayers. Reliable high speed internet that once was a dream to those here at home and those in developing nations around the world is now going to be a reality. If Starlink remains on schedule it will likely be available to Nova Scotians before much of the fibre wire which is required by other companies can even be laid. Starlink will reportedly cost about $80 per month.

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