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INTO THE WILD, BLUE YONDER:
Xplorenet promises satellite launch will bring internet service down to earth

Xplorenet Communications Inc., a Woodstock, N.B.-based company, sent ViaSat-1 on its way aboard a Proton rocket from a site in Kazakhstan this past October. A second launch is already planned. Together, these satellites will reportedly allow for previously unavailable speed and bandwidth to rural, remote areas of Canada.

According to Industry Canada, roughly 94 per cent of Canadian households in 2009 had access to broadband connections through terrestrial networks. But while urban centres were well served, remote sections of the country were not. Today, as much as 22 per cent of rural households are without broadband connectivity and the benefits it provides.

According to a recent study by SANE Consulting Inc., an Alberta-based system analysis and network engineering firm: “High-speed broadband lays the foundation for increasing productivity and stimulating economic development.”

Moreover, the report states, “With better connectedness, people have better access to distant friends and family, more education and work options and often the on-demand nature of broadband allows people to better take control of their lives, to work and play according to their own schedules.”

From its humble home in rural New Brunswick, Xplorenet has been quietly cornering the market for remote connectivity in recent years, having purchased 100 per cent of the Canadian capacity of something called the Ka band. In an interview with the CBC last fall, company CEO John Maduri said, “By the end of 2012, we’re going to be in a position to say that 100 per cent of Canada is covered with fast, reliable, high-quality broadband.”

The satellite launch coincided with Xplorenet’s completion of a 4G ground station near Fort McMurray, Alberta. “As Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. have shown, the only practical way to get real broadband to everyone, regardless of location, is via satellite,” said senior vice-president Bill Macdonald. “And 4G satellite is a game-changer in terms of its ability to deliver speed and capacity.”

By Alec Bruce

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