FCC officially rejects Ajit Pai’s boondoggle to provide Elon Musk nearly $1 billion in grants

from so sad department

Elon Musk hates government subsidies. That’s what he says, right? He claims that we should “cut everything out” and that “the federal budget deficit is insane”. Of course, the richest man in the world (for now) received several billions in government subsidies for his businesses. Indeed, you could say that his success was largely based on getting so many grants to swell his businesses when they were otherwise struggling.

Given his declared (but unobserved) hatred of grants, it seemed odd that one of Ajit Pai’s last decisions as FCC chairman was to hand out billions in grants under the Grant Fund. Rural Digital Opportunity (RDOF) to places that didn’t really need it. — including nearly $900 million for Musk’s Starlink operation, which is part of his SpaceX company.

Last summer, the now Pai-less FCC decided to review some of those announced grants, telling SpaceX it had to reapply for funds because it was unclear whether the company’s plans for the funds actually met the criteria. Mr. “Remove all subsidies” could have just dropped the request. But he did not do it.

And last week, the FCC formally denied the renewed request, with current FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel noting that Starlink “has failed to demonstrate” that it can deliver on the promises it made, and given the limited resources here, the money was better spent elsewhere. .

“After careful legal, technical and political review, we reject these requests. Consumers
deserve reliable and affordable broadband,” said President Rosenworcel. “We
must make the best use of scarce universal service resources as we move into a digital future
which requires ever more powerful and faster networks. We can’t afford to subsidize companies
that do not provide the speeds promised or are not likely to meet program requirements. »

“Starlink’s technology is really promising,” continued President Rosenworcel. “But the
question before us was whether to publicly subsidize its still-developing technology for consumers
broadband – which requires users to buy a $600 dish – with nearly $900 million in
universal service fund until 2032.”

In the official notice, the FCC noted:

Starlink, leveraging nascent LEO satellite technology and the ability to timely deploy future satellites to handle recognized capacity constraints while maintaining broadband speeds for RDOF and non-RDOF customers, is seeking funding for provide 100/20 Mbps low latency service to an estimated 642,925 locations in 35 states. The Bureau has determined that, based on the totality of detailed requests, the large areas of service reflected in their winning bids, and their inadequate responses to the Bureau’s follow-up questions, LTD and Starlink is not reasonably able to comply with the Commission’s requirements. The Commission has an obligation to protect our limited universal service funds and to avoid serious delays in providing the services needed in rural areas, including avoiding subsidizing risky proposals that promise faster speeds than they can deliver, and/or propose deployment plans that are unrealistic or based on aggressive assumptions and forecasts. We observe that Ookla data reported as of July 31, 2022 indicates that Starlink speeds declined from the last quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022, including download speeds that drop well below 20 Mbps. Accordingly, we deny LTD’s and Starlink’s detailed requests, and both are in default on all winning bids that have not yet been announced as default.

So, kudos to Elon Musk for not getting the grant your business didn’t deserve and couldn’t qualify that you surely didn’t want, even though you applied for it (and applied for it again).

Filed Under: elon musk, fcc, jessica rosenworcel, rdof, satellite broadband, starlink, grants

Companies: spacex

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