This week, the FCC canceled the SpaceX Award to bring internet service to unserved Pennsylvanians. SPACEX, the Elon Musk funded private sector satellite initiative, won the bid through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Program for providing broadband to unserved households and businesses in 35 states, including Pennsylvania. The program auctioned off census block tracks of unserved households and businesses in 2020 using the fund to support new infrastructure, which must be in place within 10 years.
Starlink, also known as SpaceX or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, won the auction to provide broadband to 59,200 unserved Pennsylvania households and businesses in 61 counties. That is nearly one-third of the 184,505 unserved Pennsylvania households and businesses to benefit from the 2020 auction. The FCC determined that Starlink’s application failed to demonstrate that the provider could deliver the promised service and would not be the best use of the funds to bring broadband to unserved areas. Starlink’s total award was slated to be $885 million. Who would have thought satellite communications was still considered “experimental” by ANY federal agency?
It is unclear how the FCC will resolve this issue and whether these unserved areas will be awarded to another provider. The FCC also rejected the application of LTD Broadband, which won $1.3 billion in 15 other states. To read more about the FCC’s decision, click here. To see the list of winning companies by county from 2020, click here.