SpaceX applied for the FCC-controlled rural broadband internet subsidies but was denied. While the company is appealing the decision, the drawback of the denial has been pointed out by FCC commissioner Nathan Simington; it will only give Chinese satellite internet service providers an edge.
The subsidies were worth $885.5 million, and SpaceX got part of the initial grant in 2020. The grant comes from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which sits on billions of dollars.
The program is meant to assist internet users in less-serviced areas to come online.
Simington also referred to a decision by the Commerce Department to exclude satellite broadband companies from a separate broadband internet subsidy worth $42.5 billion.
“These actions will also risk giving Chinese satellite internet providers, who have the full support of their government, a competitive advantage in serving the rest of the world. This would be especially troubling because it might raise questions for low-earth orbit connectivity companies worldwide about the regulatory risks of choosing to domicile in the United States.”
The commissioner urged the FCC to review the decision so that rural Americans can get online as soon as possible.
SpaceX has about 3,000 Starlink satellites in space and continues to launch more at a rapid pace.