The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dealt a major blow to SpaceX’s Starlink, rejecting its application for nearly $1 billion in subsidies.
Starlink is the low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet constellation SpaceX has been racing to deploy. The company was seeking subsidies to assist in its expansion, but the FCC has ruled against it.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged Starlink’s potential, but questioned the steep price point.
“Starlink’s technology has real promise,” said Rosenworcel. “But the question before us was whether to publicly subsidize its still developing technology for consumer broadband—which requires that users purchase a $600 dish—with nearly $900 million in universal service funds until 2032.”
The decision also impacted LTD Broadband, a Las Vegas-based company. The FCC had previously awarded LTD $1,320,920,718, alongside the $885,509,638 to Starlink. In the case of LTD, the company failed to expand aggressively enough to qualify for the funds.
Interestingly, not all FCC commissioners agree with the decision. Commissioner Brendan Carr issued the following statement regarding the Starlink decision:
“I am surprised to find out via a press release—while I am on a work trip to remote parts of Alaska—that the FCC has made this significant decision. I will have more to say because we should be making it easier for unserved communities to get service, not rejecting a proven satellite technology that is delivering robust, high-speed service today. To be clear, this is a decision that tells families in states across the country that they should just keep waiting on the wrong side of the digital divide even though we have the technology to improve their lives now.”