The FCC rejected the long-form applications of Starlink and of LTD Broadband to receive support through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program.
Starlink is delivering broadband access via thousands of LEO satellites.
LTD Broadband offers a fixed wireless access service and has built over 2500 tower sites covering over 50,000 square miles of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
The FCC said these applications failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service.
“After careful legal, technical, and policy review, we are rejecting these applications. Consumers deserve reliable and affordable high-speed broadband,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “We must put scarce universal service dollars to their best possible use as we move into a digital future that demands ever more powerful and faster networks. We cannot afford to subsidize ventures that are not delivering the promised speeds or are not likely to meet program requirements.”
“Starlink’s technology has real promise,” continued Chairwoman 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.”
In the initial auction results announced December 7, 2020, LTD Broadband won $1,320,920,718.60, and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (Starlink) won $885,509,638.40.
In rebuttal, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr issued the following statement: “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.”
- Separately, the FCC announced that is ready to authorize $21,112,263 in broadband funding to three companies to deploy gigabit service to almost 15,000 locations in four states Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
- To date, the RDOF program has authorized more than $5 billion in funding to bring primarily fiber gigabit broadband service to over 3,000,000 locations in 47 states.