starlink satellite in the desert

Mike Mareen (Licensed)

SpaceX is extremely upset the FCC won’t give it a billion dollars to develop Starlink

The Elon Musk-owned company called it 'grossly unfair.'


Jacob Seitz


Posted on Sep 12, 2022   Updated on Sep 12, 2022, 4:39 pm CDT

SpaceX filed for a review after the Federal Communications Commission rejected its bid for $855.5 million in rural broadband funding, saying the decision stranded rural Americans “on the wrong side of the digital divide indefinitely.”

SpaceX was originally slated to receive funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), a fund created under the Trump administration that aimed to connect rural Americans to high-speed, quality internet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai awarded SpaceX an RDOF grant in December 2020, but the company still needed the FCC to approve a long-form application to receive the funds.

SpaceX proposed that the money it received would bring its Starlink satellite internet system to almost 650,000 homes and businesses across 35 states. But in August, the FCC, now under the Biden administration, rejected it.

“We must put scarce universal service dollars to their best possible use as we move into a digital future that demands ever more powerful and faster networks,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “The question before us was whether to publicly subsidize [SpaceX’s] still developing technology for consumer broadband—which requires that users purchase a $600 dish—with nearly $900 million in universal service funds until 2032.”

In a filing on Friday, SpaceX Senior Director David Goldman submitted an Application for Review and said the filing showed “a clear bias towards fiber, rather than a merits-based decision to actually connect unserved Americans,” claiming the rejection “misused data outside the record to penalize SpaceX” for its current speeds rather than assessing fairly whether the company can meet RDOF speed requirements in three years.

The filing claimed that the FCC changed the rules of the funding requirements “to undo a prior policy” and was “grossly unfair” to the company after it “invested thousands of employee-hours and millions of dollars preparing to meet its RDOF obligations on the reasonable assumption that the Bureau would apply the Commission’s rules in an even-handed manner.”

In a statement released on Monday, FCC Commissioner and President Donald Trump appointee Nathan Simington said he welcomed SpaceX’s appeal.

“I am concerned that a confluence of factors both within and without the FCC, including this decision, our lengthy review of SpaceX’s application to launch more satellites … will all combine to keep millions of rural Americans disconnected and excluded from our digital economy for years to come,” he said.

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2022, 4:37 pm CDT