FCC shoots down nearly $1B in Starlink subsidies

The Elon Musk-owned internet service provider failed to 'meet the program requirements' to qualify for a major federal broadband expansion project

Starlink hardware
Starlink hardware
(Image credit: Photo by Odd Andersen / AFP via Getty Images)

For the second time in as many years, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has rejected an effort by Elon Musk's Starlink internet service provider company to receive nearly $1 billion in government subsidies to expand rural broadband service. The decision, announced this week by the independent government agency tasked with regulating much of the country's media and broadcast infrastructure, reaffirms a 2022 rejection of Starlink's application for over $885 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program — a more than $20 billion initiative designed to bring high-speed internet to far-flung communities across the country. 

Explaining that the agency has a "responsibility to be a good steward of limited public funds," FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel justified this week's rejection, claiming that "careful legal, technical and policy review" had determined Musk's Starlink company had ultimately "failed to meet its burden" to receive the funding. The language echoed Rosenworcel's 2022 assertion that although Starlink "has real promise," it was ultimately a "still developing technology for consumer broadband." Among the FCC's concerns was the "uncertain nature" of Starlink parent company SpaceX's Starship rockets, which have yet to achieve stable orbit. 

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