American space travel and rocket manufacturer company, SpaceX appealed the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to deny the company’s satellite internet unit US$885.5 million in rural broadband subsidies, calling it a “flawed” and “grossly unfair” move.
Just a month ago, the FCC turned down applications from SpaceX and LTD Broadband for funds that have been tentatively awarded in 2020 under the commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund – a multi-billion dollar program in which SpaceX would potentially receive about US$885.5 million in order to allow satellite internet in US regions with little to no internet access.
“The decision appears to have been rendered in service to a clear bias towards fiber, rather than a merits-based decision to actually connect unserved Americans,” SpaceX’s senior director of satellite policy, David Goldman, wrote in a scathing appeal filed Friday evening.
The FCC declined to comment.
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SpaceX which owns Starlink, a fast-paced network of over 3,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit has managed to rake thousands of users in the United States with consumers paying about US$599 for a user terminal and a US$110 a month subscription fee.
Back in August, the FCC Chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel stated that Starlink’s technology “has real promise” but it could not meet the program’s requirements, while also citing data that showed a steady decline in speeds over the past year and casting the service’s price as too steep for consumers.
However, SpaceX was prepared to provide 100/20 Mbps service to 642,925 locations in 35 states across the country.
The company in its appeal said the FCC erroneously evaluated Starlink’s performance.
FCC commissioner Brendan Carr in a statement last month opposed the FCC’s decision and slammed the agency for rejecting the funds without a full commission vote.
“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,” Carr said.