Having weighed the pros and cons, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has granted SpaceX a Basic International Telecommunications Services (BITS) licence

SpaceX has received a BITS licence from the CRTC, bringing it one step closer to operating its satellite-based internet service, Starlink, in Canada.


Elon Musk’s SpaceX applied for the BITS licence back in May. The application reportedly contained 2,585 interventions – comments arguing for or against the allocation of the licence – which were ultimately weighed by the CRTC before licensing the company. 


In the letter from CRTC Secretary General Claude Doucet to SpaceX’s CFO Bret Johnsen, Doucet pointed out that while the BITS licence allows a company to provide international telecommunications services, it does not automatically grant the company the right to operate as an ISP within Canada. 


“The Commission notes that a BITS licence does not by itself authorize an entity to operate as a facilities-based carrier or non-facilities-based service provider,” said the letter. “Entities who provide services as a non-facilities-based service provider must register as such with the Commission and comply at all times with the appropriate regulatory framework.” 


Nonetheless, this licence is a significant step in bringing Starlink internet within reach of Canadian customers. 


Currently, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation is comprises around 800 satellites, having launched additional devices regularly throughout the year. The company’s latest launch saw 60 more satellites added to the constellation, with a further 120 planned every month from now. In the US, the Federal Communication’s Commission has already agreed to allow Starlink to launch 12,000 satellites in total, with the company trying to go further, filing paperwork for the launch of 30,000 satellites. 


Starlink can reportedly reach speeds of 100Mbps downlink with a 30ms latency, which would make it very competitive with current broadband networks. However, Musk has previously stated that he does not expect to tread on the operators toes, since Starlink will be primarily targetting rural areas which are already not cost-effective for traditional operators to reach. Nonetheless, with the company targetting ‘global coverage by 2021’ according to the Starlink website, the operators are likely to be more than a little wary of this new player entering the market.


Public beta tests of the Starlink satellite network are planned to begin once the latest 60 devices reach their low-earth orbit in two to three weeks time, and the results will surely be watched with great interest from operators around the globe.


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