SpaceX has appealed the Federal Communications Commission’s cancellation of Starlink’s infrastructure price of $885.5 million. The appeal was filed electronically and delivered by hand to FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch.
In the summary, he said the decision to exclude Starlink from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) was flawed in both law and policy. According to the document,
“It legally fails because it contradicts the record – including the proven capabilities of SpaceX and Starlink – it contradicts the rules laid out by the Commission for the program, and it is based on unsubstantiated conjecture and apparently chosen off-the-record information. somewhere on the internet.”
“Worse, it goes against the very objective of the RDOF: to reduce the digital divide. As the past few years have emphasized, getting all Americans online as quickly as possible is critical, whether it’s getting kids to do homework, allowing parents to work from home, helping doctors deliver telehealth or assisting first responders in an emergency. The Bureau’s decision undermines that goal, leaving the very Americans RDOF was supposed to connect stuck indefinitely on the wrong side of the digital divide.
“This decision is so broken that it’s hard not to see it as an improper attempt to overturn the Commission’s earlier decision, taken under the previous administration, to allow satellite broadband service providers to participate in the RDOF program. The decision appears to have been made in service of a clear bias in favor of fiber, rather than a merit-based decision to actually connect unserved Americans. Commissioner Starks, in passing the RDOF Order, correctly anticipated that “next-generation satellite broadband holds enormous technological promise for bridging the digital divide and is being led by strong American companies with a long track record of success” .
“Rightly, he ordered the Bureau ‘to assess these nominations on their own merits.’ But the Bureau inexplicably ignored that direction and instead applied vastly different standards to SpaceX’s application precisely because SpaceX is proposing to use satellites.
SpaceX also said the Bureau’s decision to misuse data outside of the case to penalize it alone for its current system speeds was one of many mistakes. Another mistake was that the Bureau ignored SpaceX’s “strong record evidence” of its proven ability to rapidly expand and upgrade its network.
The Bureau disregarded SpaceX’s transparent overall pricing versus the “opaque pricing — which masks the true cost to consumers — common in the industry,” SpaceX said.
“The Bureau’s decision maintains SpaceX at standards not adopted by the Commission for the RDOF program. Indeed, these are standards that no bidder could reach today. Changing the rules to override a previous policy is patently unfair after SpaceX invested thousands of employee hours and millions of dollars preparing to meet its RDOF obligations on the reasonable assumption that the Bureau would apply the Commission’s rules of impartial manner.
“Even more troubling, because no RDOF candidate offering fiber has even made an offer in the majority of territories that SpaceX has committed to serve via RDOF, the Bureau’s decision leaves the Commission without any plan to connect new many unconnected Americans, which undermines the very purpose of this program. The decision should not stand, once again leaving aside the inhabitants of these rural areas of our country. »
Last month, FCC Commissioner Brenden Carr called out the agency for denying the Starlink award. Along with a statement posted to Twitter, he tweeted that it would leave rural Americans “waiting on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
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