The FCC took a bold step forward in rejecting Elon Musk and SpaceX’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) long form application, denying the company of the $885.5M award announced on December 7, 2020. This is a huge victory for the 640,000 families that had been previously relegated to Low Earth Orbit Satellite service as a result of the 2020 RDOF auction results. Further, as these families that were designated as “Starlink locations”, they were at risk of being redlined from being eligible for fiber broadband from the $42.45B NTIA BEAD broadband infrastructure funding and other federal, state, and local broadband programs. Today’s action by the FCC, rejecting SpaceX’s Starlink from RDOF funding, provides clarity and a path forward for fiber and closing the digital divide, while returning $885.5M of this precious funding back into the RDOF fund for more appropriate broadband projects.
"The FCC’s denial of SpaceX’s bid for RDOF subsidies for Starlink is exciting and stunning news for all Americans. The Fiber Broadband Association and the NTCA supplied the technical assessment and model to aid the FCC’s evaluation of Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) Satellite broadband networks, and we could not be more pleased that this contribution has been successful in convincing the agency of the limited capabilities of satellite broadband networks.
As FCC Chairman Rosenworcel pointed out, these networks are unable to deliver the promised speeds and low latency needed to support critical broadband connections. The Fiber Broadband Association continues to provide research and results that demonstrate that fiber-based broadband is the only infrastructure that will provide the reliable, high-speed broadband services that will bring digital equity to every corner of North America. We are hopeful that this decision will make way for fiber providers to deliver sustainable broadband services to communities who still lack a reliable internet connection in rural America, and we applaud the FCC for their commitment and intense scrutiny with the RDOF long form applications and for rejecting awards that will not serve the public good."