New satellite company to challenge Telesat monopoly

Ottawa, Ont. - Richard Stursberg and NB Capital Partners Inc. announced today the creation of Bird Satellite Communications Inc., a new Canadian owned and controlled satellite company.

The company, led by Stursberg as president and CEO, and executives experienced in the industry, filed an application today with Industry Canada seeking authority to launch and operate two powerful communications satellites.

"Bird Satellite Communications will effectively bridge the growing digital divide which strands over 3 million Canadian households and businesses in remote, isolated and northern communities with no access to high speed broadband and internet service," said Stursberg, the former president and CEO of Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (Cancom).

"The moment we light up our first satellite, the vast landmass of Canada outside heavily populated areas which will never be wired will have access to the Internet," Stursberg said.

If Bird's application is successful, it will end the last Canadian telecommunications monopoly, by providing competition for Telesat Canada. In the process, Canadian satellite users will gain the benefits of choice in suppliers: price competition, innovation and improved service.

"While some may contend that U.S. satellites already provide competing service, they do not cover our North, and Telesat continues to have a stranglehold on the Canadian marketplace. The government's goal of full competition can only be achieved by licensing a competitive alternative to the monopoly provider, Telesat," Stursberg said.

Previously, Stursberg played a key role in the successful efforts by Unitel, now AT&T; Canada, to bring competition to the long distance phone market.

Bird will also commit approximately $100 million over the life of the project to advanced tele-health and tele-education services for remote and underserved areas of Canada. These benefits will be defined through consultations with groups in both the true north and what the application refers to as the "provincial" north isolated northern or other remote areas in the provinces. User groups to be consulted will include hospitals, educational institutions, First Nations and other communities.

The new company expects to invest an estimated $1 billion in Canadian telecommunications infrastructure. The new Canadian company will offer technology and management job opportunities, as well as significant industrial spin-offs to other Canadian companies.

"We agree with the federal government that this growing digital divide between the information highway have and have-nots is both a business opportunity and a social challenge and Bird Satellite Communications Inc. intends to meet both with real innovation and determination," Stursberg said.

National Bank Financial Inc. has been engaged by Bird Satellite Communications Inc. as the financial advisor for the project.

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