SpaceX Starlink service is not a go in Canada yet despite CRTC license

SpaceX Starlink orbit. Credit: SpaceX.

Despite what you may have read, SpaceX is not authorized yet to offer Starlink service in Canada. In fact, no one, including even SpaceX, knows when they might offer services in Canada. The reason is simple, SpaceX needs a satellite spectrum license from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to operate and offer their services to Canadian customers.

On October 15, 2020 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the SpaceX application for a a Basic International Telecommunications Services (BITS) Licence. And it isn’t the first time this happened. That’s right, SpaceX already had a BITS license approved on April 26, 2019. That license though was under the name TIBRO Canada Corp., a Nova Scotia registered unlimited liability company. (BTW, TIBRO is orbit spelled backwards. Someone at SpaceX has a sense of humour.)

On June 22, 2020 of this year TIBRO Canada Corp. changed its name to SpaceX Canada Corp. The new BITS license though was not approved under its Canadian company name. Instead it was submitted and approved under the parent company’s name, U.S. based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Confused yet?

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Regardless of what name the BITS license was approved under, SpaceX still needs that satellite spectrum license to operate the Starlink constellation in Canada.

SpaceQ had previously contacted ISED in June about SpaceX. ISED wouldn’t comment directly on any application, but did tell SpaceQ that the applications and approved website pages were up to date at that time. The website had last been updated in May. Since then, the website was updated in July. And yet there’s still no mention of SpaceX. It’s my understanding that the specific pages with applications and approvals is updated pretty quickly when there is new information to post. Though it took 3 weeks for changes to appear after Kepler submitted their application in June of this year.

With respect to how long it takes to get approval, ISED said the “service standard for the processing of satellite applications, including for those for foreign satellites, is 130 calendar days.” It’s quite possible that it could take longer.

So for those looking for a clue when SpaceX might offer Starlink service in Canada, it’s best to check the links from the ISED Satellite Services website from time to time to see if they’ve been approved.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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