After being denied in its appeal to join the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), aimed at providing internet service in underserved areas, Starlink is poised to become a participant in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP is a federal subsidy initiative aimed at enhancing broadband accessibility for low-income households.
The announcement of Starlink’s intent to join the ACP was made by David Goldman, SpaceX’s Vice President of Satellite Policy, during a webcast event on Wednesday. Although Starlink has yet to activate the ACP benefits, it stands fully eligible and has concrete plans to do so, according to Goldman, offering financial relief to eligible subscribers.
Starlink’s participation in the ACP is expected to reduce the monthly broadband costs by $30 for qualified households. However, the ACP faces the looming depletion of its original $14.2 billion allowance, which is expected to happen by April 2024, a move that would affect approximately 25 million households that would lose subsidized internet access.
The ACP is seeking an additional $6 billion to extend its operations beyond April.
News of Starlink’s impending participation in the ACP comes just a few days after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) upheld its 2022 decision to deny the company an $885.5 million subsidy under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) for rural broadband expansion. Despite Starlink’s appeal, the FCC maintained that the company did not meet program requirements and could not demonstrate its ability to deliver the promised service.
The decision drew criticism, even from some of the members of the FCC. Commissioner Brandon Carr strongly criticized the decision, characterizing it as a “clear error,” saying “The real loser is gonna be rural America.”
You can watch the full webcast below. (via BroadbandBreakfast)