Telesat Review 2023: Launch date, prices, and what it means for you

Everything we know about Telesat so far

Dave Schafer
Researcher & Writer
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December 01, 2022

What is Telesat?

Telesat is a Canadian company, based in Ottawa, that offers satellite internet and communications technology to business and enterprise customers. The company dates back to 1969, when it was formed by the Canadian Parliament as a Crown corporation (government-owned). Telesat was made private and sold to Bell Canada in 1998.1

Telesat has an extensive network of existing satellites that it uses to provide internet and communications services to enterprise customers around the world. It currently utilizes primarily geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, but it is working on building and deploying a large low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite fleet that it’s calling Lightspeed.

Telesat vs. other satellite internet providers

Telesat-Logo-NavyHughesNetViasatStarlink
TelesatHughesNetViasatStarlink
Price varies—call to discuss
Up to 1.2 Gbps
Unlimited data
Owner: Loral Space
$54.99–$149.99/mo.**
25 Mbps
15–75 GB/mo.
Owner: EchoStar
$49.99–$199.99/mo.*
12–300 Mbps
35–150 GB/mo.
Owner: Viasat World
$110.00–$500.00/mo.
50–500 Mbps
Unlimited data
Owner: Elon Musk
Check every ISP in my area

How much does Telesat cost?

Since Telesat serves primarily large enterprise customers, it’s hard to nail down pricing for it. Enterprise contracts are often tailor-made for the specific business signing the contract. As such, the pricing structure isn’t really comparable to a consumer-facing service like Viasat or HughesNet.

In fact, Telesat doesn’t advertise any prices on its website—you have to schedule a call to discuss your needs. So if you’re looking for satellite internet service for your home, you’ll want to take a look at other providers like Starlink, Viasat, and especially HughesNet.

Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. *Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months ($50–$200/mo.). **Service plans require a 24-month

What do Telesat satellites do?

Currently, Telesat operates primarily on a fleet of GEO satellites that offer reasonable speeds to its corporate customers. However, it has big plans for the future with a project called Lightspeed.

Lightspeed is a massive, $5 billion project that will see Telesat putting hundreds of LEO satellites into orbit (similar to Starlink and Project Kuiper) at around 1,000 km (roughly 620 miles), twice the altitude of the International Space Station. The original plan was for roughly 300 satellites, but Telesat has downsized to 188.2

The Lightspeed constellation will power Telesat’s next-gen internet service, which will offer a combined capacity of 10 Tbps, with up to 7.5 Gbps to a single terminal and up to 15 Gbps for single “hotspot” sites like airports.3

How many Telesat satellites are there?

Telesat operates 13 GEO satellites in a variety of orbital locations, providing global coverage.4 The Lightspeed LEO network will eventually consist of 188 satellites, with plans to deploy starting in 2023.2

This means that customers can currently get satellite internet around the world with Telesat. This is a slower, more traditional satellite internet network, however. The much faster Lightspeed service is not yet available, but when it is, it’ll also cover the entire globe—eventually, anyway.

Compared to other satellite providers, Telesat’s 188 LEO satellites is a pretty small fleet. For example, Amazon’s Project Kuiper plans to deploy over 3,200 satellites, and Starlink has nearly 1,500. However, since Telesat isn’t aiming at large-scale consumer applications, it can get away with smaller and more focused infrastructure.

All that said, the service should be extremely reliable, given that it’s aimed at corporate, enterprise, military, and government use. Of course, for individual consumers, that reliability is useless, since you can’t really get the service. But if you end up using it at work in a military or government environment, you’ll likely be pretty satisfied with it.

Is Telesat a Crown corporation?

Telesat began as a Crown corporation—in other words, it was owned by the Canadian government. However, in 1998 it was privatized and sold to Bell Canada. It’s now a publicly traded company, with stock available on the New York Stock Exchange under the TSAT ticker.

How many employees does Telesat have?

According to LinkedIn, Telesat has a company size of 201–500 employees5. That’s a reasonable number for a business-to-business satellite internet company, and that reflects in Telesat’s performance overall.

The company has some big initiatives in the works, like the previously mentioned Telesat Lightspeed, and while it has had to cut its target number of satellites, this is more to do with supplier issues than problem with Telesat itself.6

Is Telesat a good company?

Telesat is a legitimate and reliable enterprise-focused company. It’s been around for a long time—since 1969, in fact, and it’s therefore been in the satellite business longer than many other companies.

Telesat also lays claim to the first domestic communications satellite in geostationary orbit to be operated by a commercial company (the Anik A1—see below).7 In other words, the company has a lot of experience and seems to know what it’s doing. So we’d say it’s pretty good.

What date was Anik A1 launched?

The Anik A1 was the first communications satellite in geostationary orbit operated by a commercial company. It was launched in 1972 and retired in 1981. This was Telesat’s first major undertaking as a Canadian Crown company, and it’s what proved Telesat viable.

Telesat vs. Starlink: Who are Starlink’s competitors?

Telesat is potentially a competitor to Starlink in the corporate world, but the two don’t compete in the consumer-facing world of home internet. Telesat is strictly business-to-business and seems to have no interest in transitioning to home internet service.

Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat are the way to go if you’re looking for satellite internet for home, personal, or small business use. In particular, we think HughesNet is the best option for most people.

Who owns Telesat Canada?

Telesat is owned by Loral Space, a satellite communications company based in Delaware. The company acquired Telesat in 2007.

Should you get Telesat?

Well, the short answer is no—Telesat isn’t a consumer-facing satellite internet company, so you probably can’t get it, unless you happen to own a large business or work for the government.

That said, it does offer significant infrastructure around the world, and there’s a good chance someone you know uses Telesat internet at work, whether they realize it or not.

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Endnotes

  1. Daphne Lavers, Canadian Communications Foundation, “Canadian Satellite Television,” October 2011. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  2. Michael Sheetz, CNBC, “Telesat to build a $5 billion global satellite network to bring fiber-like internet to businesses,” February 2021. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  3. Telesat, Telesat Lightspeed Specifications Sheet. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  4. Telesat, GEO Satellites. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  5. LinkedIn, Telesat company page. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  6. Jason Rainbow, Space News, “Amazon and Telesat coordinate their planned NGSO constellations,” September 2022. Accessed November 9, 2022.
Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at HighSpeedInternet.com get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).