SpaceX appeals US FCC rejection of rural broadband subsidies

An exterior of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California May 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) – SpaceX on Friday challenged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to deny the space company’s satellite internet unit $885.5 million in broadband subsidies rural, calling the decision “flawed” and “grossly unfair”. regulatory filing.

Last month, the FCC denied claims by billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX and LTD Broadband for funds that had been tentatively awarded in 2020 under the commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a multi-billion dollar program in which SpaceX was set to receive $885.5 million to beam internet via satellite to areas of the United States with little or no internet connections.

“The decision appears to have been made in service of a clear bias in favor of fiber, rather than a merit-based decision to actually connect unserved Americans,” SpaceX’s senior director of satellite policy wrote. , David Goldman, in a scathing appeal filed Friday night.

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The FCC declined to comment.

SpaceX’s Starlink, a rapidly growing network of more than 3,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, has tens of thousands of users in the United States so far, with consumers paying at least $599 for a user terminal and 110 $ per month for the service.

Announcing the rejection in August, FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel said Starlink’s technology “showed real promise” but could not meet program requirements, citing data that showed a steady decline in speeds over the past year and calling the price of the service too high for consumers.

SpaceX under the program had sought to provide 100/20 Mbps service to 642,925 locations in 35 states. The company in its appeal said the FCC improperly assessed Starlink’s performance.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, in a statement last month, objected to the FCC’s decision and criticized the agency for rejecting the funds without a full committee vote.

“To be clear, this is a decision that tells families in states across the country that they should continue to wait on the wrong side of the digital divide, even though we have the technology to improve their lives now,” Carr said.

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Reporting by Joey Roulette; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Aurora Ellis

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