What’s the Real Reason the FCC Denied Elon Musk’s Starlink $900 Million in Rural Broadband Subsidies?

News & Politics

The federal government has made it a top priority to bring broadband internet to rural areas and has set aside billions of dollars to do it.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 was supposed to grant subsidies to carriers that met certain criteria in bringing broadband to underserved areas. Entrepreneur Elon Musk accepted the challenge and has begun launching thousands of Starlink mini-satellites that will eventually cover the globe.

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Musk has applied for nearly a billion dollars in subsidies and his company definitely meets some of the FCC’s criteria for eligibility. But last year, the FCC denied Musk broadband subsidies because “the FCC determined the companies’ long-form applications for funding failed to show they could provide the service outlined in their applications,” according to Forbes.

It’s a question of scale. Musk needs to launch at least 10,000 Starlink satellites to get minimal coverage for rural areas. And according to the FCC, Musk failed to demonstrate he could meet the deadline for that coverage in 2025.

“Starlink’s technology has real promise,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the time. “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 sticking point is that in order to meet the goal of launching 10,000 satellites by 2032, Musk is going to have to perfect his massive, heavy-lift rocket, Starship. Starship will be able to launch 50-100 Starlink satellites into orbit at a time.

As FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said, it’s a promising technology. But the FCC noted that Starship hasn’t made it into orbit yet, calling into question whether it could meet the agency’s deadline of 2032.

The one dissent was by Republication FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. Carr criticized the FCC’s decision, saying the commission “did not require—and has never required—any other award winner to show that it met its service obligation years ahead of time.”

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One of Musk’s arguments is that Starlink is the only company that can address the rural broadband problem completely and that it makes no sense to deny his company subsidies that could deliver broadband to rural areas much faster than any other company. 

Carr accused the Democratic majority on the commission of “regulatory harassment.

Washington Examiner:

Musk and his companies are battling numerous investigations launched by President Joe Biden’s administration, many of which have occurred since he acquired social media platform Twitter — now X — in October 2022. The FCC’s rejection of a $885 million award to SpaceX’s Starlink to provide fast broadband internet service to over 640,000 homes and businesses in rural areas is aligned with other examples of the Biden administration’s “harassment” of Musk, Carr alleged in a statement dissenting from the decision.

“Today’s decision certainly fits the Biden Administration’s pattern of regulatory harassment,” Carr wrote. “Indeed, the Commission’s decision today to revoke a 2020 award of $885 million to Elon Musk’s Starlink—an award that Starlink secured after agreeing to provide high-speed Internet service to over 640,000 rural homes and businesses across 35 states—is a decision that cannot be explained by any objective application of law, facts, or policy.”

Since Musk showed himself to be a free speech supporter after buying Twitter, the elites have targeted him for destruction. And his failure to march in lockstep with the Democrats has put a giant-sized bullseye on his back.

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In Musk’s case, it’s a question of being guilty until he proves himself innocent.

“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries…is worthy of being looked at, whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that,” Biden said in November 2022. “I’m suggesting that [it’s]… worth being looked at… that’s all I’ll say.”

Musk’s problem is that he takes the words of the First Amendment at face value. I can remember when the left fought for that concept. But we now have a president who weaponizes agencies of the federal government to attack opponents who don’t toe the line. 

There’s no evidence that Musk ever cooperated or engaged in anything inappropriate with foreign governments. The left is so concerned about Trump’s “authoritarianism” that they fail to see the danger right in front of their noses

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