Elon Musk’s Starlink Loses $886M Subsidy to Expand Rural Internet Access

In a reversal of a 2020 decision, the US Federal Communications Commission has decided to reject Starlink’s application for $886 million in subsidies to expand rural broadband coverage. Starlink “failed to meet program requirements” and the program was too risky, the commission said in a release Wednesday.

“Starlink’s technology has real promise, 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,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Another applicant, LTD Broadband, also lost its subsidy of $1.3 million.

Starlink delivers internet access via its fleet of more than 2,000 low-orbit satellites, which beam web data down to its satellite dishes, even in rural places that don’t have ground-laid internet. It isn’t the only satellite internet provider, but it’s the fastest, according to the internet service analysts at Ookla.

Earlier this year, Starlink’s prices increased. Customers pay a onetime equipment fee of $599 for the Starlink satellite dish, and the internet connection costs $110 per month.

SpaceX, Starlink’s parent company, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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