A commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has criticized the agency’s decision to reject SpaceX’s bid for $886 million in US subsidies.
SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer, was seeking funding to expand Starlink satellite Internet to about 650,000 remote homes and businesses across 35 US states.
However, the FCC rejected SpaceX’s bid on August 10 because the company “failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised services,” the company said in a press release. LTD Broadband was also deprived of subsidy.
Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner, wrote in a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday that FCC leadership reversed the decision on SpaceX’s application without approval or a vote from the agency’s commissioners.
Carr said he was surprised to learn through an FCC press release that the agency had changed its mind about funding Sterling.
“In turn, the FCC has chosen to evaporate this commitment and replace it with… nothing,” Carr said in the statement. “The decision to leave families on the wrong side of the digital divide waiting when we have the technology to get them high-speed service.”
SpaceX won tentative approval for $886 million in funding to deploy Starlink in 2020, as part of an FCC program to introduce high-speed internet to rural US locations.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosen worsen said in a press release earlier this month that it didn’t make sense to fund “still-developing technology,” which costs $599 for user terminals, or to afford subsidies that weren’t delivering. The speed they promise.
Carr said in his statement Wednesday that data cited by the FCC showed that Starlink’s speeds have increased year over year and, therefore, the agency’s argument “does not hold up.” He also said the FCC has offered rewards for slow Internet service providers, which cost consumers more.
“The denial here is without valid basis,” Carr said, adding that it “constitutes clear error and clearly exceeds the agency’s authority.”
The FCC and SpaceX did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment outside of US operating hours.
This followed the US Air Force awarding SpaceX a $1.92 million contract for Starlink to support US military bases in Europe and Africa.