Telesat, one of the largest and most successful global satellite operators, has joined a group of tech firms led by Mississippi-based C Spire working to bridge the “digital divide” and help solve the rural broadband access and adoption problem.
The firms, which also include Airspan Networks, Microsoft, Nokia and Siklu, joined forces last year and have been testing technology solutions, creating and building new business models and providing training resources for individuals and communities in digital skills to help improve internet access in rural areas.
In addition to Telesat’s state-of-the-art global, geostationary satellite fleet, the company is building Telesat LEO, a low earth orbit network that will deliver fiber-like connectivity with a combination of high speeds, high capacity, affordability and ultra-low latency.
Telesat will provide analysis tools and its experience with LEO technology to help the consortium work on new business models designed to encourage and promote third-party engagement. Telesat has partnered with the Canadian government to provide backhaul to rural and remote communities as part of an effort to bridge the “digital divide” affordably and quickly connecting the remaining 2.2 million households across the country.
Mississippi, with almost 28 percent of its residents lacking any broadband connectivity and less than 18 percent using broadband, is the primary testing ground of the group’s work as nearly half of its 3 million residents live in rural areas. The state ranks 46th nationwide in broadband access and 47th in urban population.
Among the various fixed wireless technology solutions the consortium is deploying and testing in rural areas of Mississippi are TV white spaces, massive MIMO using 4G Band 41 LTE and C Spire’s own 5G internet product, Sparks said, adding that the approaches could potentially be used in similar broadband-challenged rural areas across the continent.
C Spire is leading the effort as part of its broader Tech Movement to build a better future for the region through technology and education.