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Pikangikum First Nation to receive SpaceX Starlink broadband

Wednesday, December 2nd 2020, 4:07 pm - Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

A remote northwestern community with 15 buildings and about 2,000 members may be the first in the country to get access to SpaceX Starlink broadband internet.

Currently, the area is connected to broadband through Kenora's FSET Information Technology and Services, which announced the upgrade on social media on November 27.

"Pikangikum First Nation will be the first indigenous community in Canada to be connected to SpaceX satellite network," the company said on Twitter, thanking organizations and government for their collaborative efforts.

In an interview with the CBC, FSET CEO David Brown said poor internet connectivity is an issue in many northern communities, but the SpaceX technology may change that.

Brown says his company was trying to set up better internet access for Pikangikum, but "traditional" services weren't working.

That's when he decided to reach out to SpaceX about its low-orbit satellite internet.

"Eventually, I was put in touch with an individual that was very interested, wanted to hear this story and the challenges that they were having. He took that back, and advocated on their behalf for approval to be one of the first Starlink users of SpaceX technology," Brown tells the CBC, adding the ability for residents to have access to reliable video conferencing is especially important now, during the pandemic.

Speaking to reporters last week, Pikangikum Chief Dean Owen said the new technology represents a "significant day for the community of Pikangikum First Nation."

“The delivery of Starlink internet services will transform our abilities to deliver local services, create economic opportunities, access education, training, health, and wellness supports, and improve the quality of life for our children, youth and families,” he added.

Installation kits are currently being received in Kenora, with construction scheduled for completion by the end of 2020.

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