Ottawa-based Telesat to operate new satellite network from Gatineau

·2 min read
Telesat's LEO satellites will be built near of Montreal, but the program's day-to-day operations will be centred in Gatineau, Que.
Telesat's LEO satellites will be built near of Montreal, but the program's day-to-day operations will be centred in Gatineau, Que.

(Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. - image credit)

The Quebec government is investing $400 million in Ottawa-based Telesat as the company plans to centre its Lightspeed program in Gatineau, Que.

The goal of the project is to provide broadband internet in rural and remote regions via Telesat's Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network. Telesat plans to launch nearly 300 satellites as part of the program.

While the satellites themselves won't be built in Gatineau — that will happen at a factory in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., west of Montreal — the Outaouais will be home to other facilities.

For me, it's only the start of a new industry of the future. - Quebec Premier François Legault

Those include a global network operating centre to handle calls from customers and the rollout of the broadband network, another facility to ensure the satellites adjust for spatial anomalies and other objects, an engineering lab and a landing station that will be used to communicate with the satellites, Dan Goldberg, Telesat's president and CEO, said during a news conference Thursday.

The company will also be working with Canadian aerospace company MDA, which will develop a specialized antenna for the satellites.

Idil Mussa/CBC
Idil Mussa/CBC

Economic generator

The project is expected to create 320 skilled jobs and transform Gatineau into a technology and cybersecurity hub.

"It could become a spearhead perhaps a northern Silicon Valley," Stéphane Bisson, interim president of the Gatineau Chamber of Commerce, told Radio-Canada. "We bring a lot of the brains to the region, a lot of people with great intelligence who will join a very intelligent population."

Bisson believes the new jobs, which are expected to pay around $100,000 a year, will give a significant boost to the local economy.

"When you create this kind of job, usually it comes with a family, spouse, partner, children," he said. "There will [also] be suppliers, [so] it will have multiplying effects on the entire regional economy."

Quebec Premier François Legault said the investment comes at a time when other sectors including the airline industry have been hit hard by the pandemic, and hinted the province is looking at further investment in the aerospace industry.

"For me, it's only the start of a new industry of the future," Legault said Friday.