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SpaceX Quiet on FCC Explanation for Denying Starlink RDOF Application

SpaceX didn't comment Tuesday on FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel's recent explanation that the Wireless Bureau rejected Starlink's application for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) money in 2022 (see 2208100050) because it didn't meet “program requirements,” including “difficulty meeting the basic…

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uplink and downlink speed standards for the program.” Republicans escalated criticism of the FCC after the commission upheld the Wireline Bureau's decision in December (see 2312130027). All RDOF applicants “were subject to the same rules -- the smallest carriers and largest carriers alike,” Rosenworcel told House Communications Subcommittee member Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida and 11 other Republicans in letters released Friday night. The GOP lawmakers pressed the issue in January. The Wireline Bureau's finding about Starlink's speed issues “has since been confirmed by the company’s most recent publicly available performance data,” Rosenworcel said: The bureau found Starlink “showed download speeds from 53-65 Mbps and upload speeds from 7-10 Mbps. As a result, the Commission concluded that Starlink would not be reasonably capable of meeting its performance obligations across the significantly larger customer base and service area it had committed to serving as a result of its winning RDOF bids, which would put even greater pressure on its network.” Starlink’s “proposal would have required every subscriber to purchase a $600 dish to simply start to receive the service,” she said. “No other services supported by the program included such high start-up costs on rural consumers.” The FCC's “review indicated that in more than 6,501 census blocks where Starlink sought support from the RDOF program were not unserved rural households, but actually parking lots, traffic medians, and locations that already have service like the Chicago Loop and Newark International Airport,” Rosenworcel said: “When we requested that Starlink no longer seek funding for these locations, the company refused.”