Telesat 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.

 “Telesat is a leader in developing satellite technology solutions that help consumers and businesses, no matter where they live or work, bridge the digital divide with reliable, affordable and high-quality internet access,” said C Spire Chief Innovation Officer Craig Sparks.  “We’re excited that they are joining our efforts to tackle this complex technical, economic and access issue.” 

 With almost 28 percent of its residents lacking any broadband connectivity and less than 18 percent using broadband, Mississippi 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.

 “Improving broadband access and digital skills represent huge opportunities for rural areas,” Sparks said. “ Every student, school and business should have the chance to reap the benefits from wider availability and adoption.”

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