Quebec had already released the checkbook in May for Elon Musk, and now it came out in June to award a second grant to SpaceX in two months.
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This time it is $21.6 million granted by decree on June 29. The amount is in addition to the $89 million of May 4.
It’s all about “orphan” homes – those that are too expensive to connect to fiber optics. In its quest to connect all of Quebec to high-speed Internet before the fall election, the CAQ government called on Starlink and its low-orbit satellites.
Starlink is owned by SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, one of America’s most prominent billionaires.
It is the Minister of the Executive Council that takes care of all the construction of connections in Quebec, a file in which Quebec has already pumped more than 1.3 billion dollars.
No one at the Quebec state was able to answer us yesterday. At the ministry, it was radio silence until 7 p.m., when a terse response was finally sent to us.
MP Gilles Bélanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister (high-speed Internet), responsible for the file, was on the North Shore for a pre-election tour. During this trip, he will notably test Starlink’s products and services.
This is a 100 megabit (Mbps) connection with no download limits.
A whole construction site
Of the 248,000 homes without a high-speed connection when the CAQ came to power in 2018, 15,000 of them will be connected by Starlink.
The envelope of 89 million dollars from May was to be used to offer these Quebecers the starter kit and the satellite saucer, which alone is worth more than 650 dollars.
Another portion was going to be used to allow Starlink customers to pay a maximum of around $90 per month. A monthly plan at Starlink costs over $120 before taxes.
“This decree aims to reserve a budget envelope that can reach a maximum of $21.6 million, over a period of three years, in order to allow the reduction of $40 per month,” an official from the MCE finally replied yesterday.
Large amounts at stake
In May, Gilles Bélanger said that there were still 160,000 homes to be connected in Quebec and that the monthly rate of connections was 30,000 per month.
Connecting a household to fiber optics costs about $5,000, he said then.
With the new grant, Quebec is now giving $110 million to SpaceX for 15,000 homes, an average of $7,333.
♦ Elon Musk’s personal wealth was valued by Forbesas of yesterday, at US$253 billion, or more than C$325 billion.
The $110 million granted to Starlink by Quebec
- $50 million to connect 10,000 homes
- $30 million to connect 5,000 additional households
- $30.6 million to offer rates at around $90 per month for 3 years