The launch of 60 more satellites on March 14 by SpaceX to provide Starlink global internet services does not have CityWest concerned, local businesses heard on March 17. C (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The launch of 60 more satellites on March 14 by SpaceX to provide Starlink global internet services does not have CityWest concerned, local businesses heard on March 17. C (AP Photo/John Raoux)

CityWest not concerned communication giants are ‘coming for’ them

SpaceX satellite launches don’t faze Prince Rupert’s communications provider

The launch of 1,265 satellites by March 12 to provide Starlink internet communication services around the globe, and the announcement of the $26 billion sale of Shaw Communications Inc. to Rogers Communications does not have the top brass at CityWest overly concerned, the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce heard on March 17.

Chris Armstrong director of sales and marketing at CityWest heard local business owners’ questions at the monthly luncheon about the Rogers and Shaw deal and addressed the communications giant potentially ‘coming for’ the locally owned company. Armstrong said the deal has been industry talk for the ‘last decade or so’.

“Every time I go to a conference or even just a zoom or conference call for the members in the industry or around the office, we have been talking about when is Rogers going to buy Shaw. That date finally came this week.”

Armstrong said the competitor’s merger was not a big surprise as the two companies have been working together for ‘quite a while’.

“As to the question as to whether or not they’re coming for us, that one is above my paygrade,” Armstrong said. “But they seem to be fairly concentrated in the more urban areas.”

With the dispatching of 60 new satellites on March 14, in its ninth launch, Armstrong said he didn’t think SpaceX’s Starlink would be a competitor for cheap or fast broadband in the near future.

“I realize with SpaceX or the constellation that’s up there in space right now, they can give you really good speeds. I have heard some stories about people who are self-installing their dishes on their houses, and they are either blown away, or they’re not working very well — But I think SpaceX is pretty good at actually getting back to those people.”

The Starlink website states that more than 10,000 global users have signed on since Feb. 2021 and they are now open to public orders. Services to Prince Rupert may be delayed until mid-2021. Services could eventually expand to providing internet in vehicles, vessels and aircraft the company stated.

With equipment costs listed on the Starlink website as $649.00, plus $65.00 shipping and handling, estimated taxes at $85.68 combined with a monthly service fee of $129.00 for between 50Mb/s to 150 Mbs, Armstrong said the CityWest costs for customers are much less.

“Our prices are much better than that. I don’t want to say we’re never concerned about that, because I don’t want to turn into the next Blackberry and say, ‘Oh, no, there’s no competition so we don’t have to worry about any of that,” the sales and marketing manager said. “We definitely have our eye on them. But at this point, we don’t see them as a major threat.”

K-J Millar | Journalist
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