Because of its $600 satellite dish, the FCC rejects Starlink’s petition for rural broadband subsidies
The Government Communications Commission (FCC) has denied Starlink’s proposal for $885 million in federal subsidies to deliver satellite internet to rural broadband consumers. The FCC cites Starlink’s $600 dish as evidence that it “failed to establish” that it “could provide the promised service.”
The investment is part of the larger $9.2 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which encourages telecom providers to expand internet access to rural and underserved areas. Starlink received an initial $885.5 million subsidy as part of the program’s Phase 1 implementation in 2020. The FCC also denied LTD Broadband’s petition for financing, despite the fact that it had already received $1.3 billion in 2020.
Earlier this year, Starlink raised the price of its beginning kit and internet subscription. To get started, Starlink customers must now pay a $599 upfront cost for the satellite dish (named Dishy McFlatface) in addition to the $110 monthly premium for internet access. (Previously, the beginning set cost $499 and $99 each month.)
The FCC cautioned Starlink and other firms last year that subsidies could not be used to improve connections in “parking lots and well-served urban settings.” According to a study from the media policy group Free Press, $111 million of Starlink’s money is expected to go to metropolitan regions that do not need the extra connection. In order to “clean up” the program, the FCC requested providers to forego money for locations that do not need coverage.