SpaceX’s Starlink initiative to stream high-speed broadband Internet from space will receive nearly $ 900 million in federal funding to help bring its service to rural homes and businesses in the US.
As part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction, SpaceX will receive $ 885 million over the next 10 years to help it build its Starlink service using a constellation of small satellites that still expands to broadcast the Internet throughout the United States and potentially around the world.
The FCC awarded a total of $ 9.2 billion in grants to 180 companies as part of Phase I, with another $ 11.2 billion to be distributed in the next phase.
The FCC said this week that recipients of the funding will use it to deploy high-speed broadband to more than 5.2 million homes and businesses without service in the US, adding that “99.7% of these places will receive broadband with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, and an overwhelming majority (more than 85%) get gigabit speed broadband ”.
The commission added that the funding is part of a larger effort “to close the digital divide in rural America and focus limited universal service funds on underserved areas that most need support.”
Commenting on the financial support, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement: “I am delighted with the incredible success of this auction, which brings good news to millions of disconnected rural Americans who have been in the country for too long. wrong side of the digital divide, “adding that” they can now get access to high-speed, high-quality broadband service. “
SpaceX sent its first batch of Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit in the spring of 2019 and has since deployed another 900 or so as it moves towards a large-scale launch of broadband services broadcast from space. While many more satellites will be required to launch a global service, the SpaceX constellation reached a size over the summer that allowed private testing to begin, while last month it launched a public beta program for select customers in the US. paid $ 499 for the necessary equipment and installation, plus a monthly fee of $ 99.
For SpaceX, the funding from the FCC is a vote of confidence in its space-based Starlink technology, which is still in the relatively early stages of development.
Only three companies received more than SpaceX in the FCC Phase I funding process, namely LTD Broadband, Charter Communications, and Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, which received $ 1.3 billion, $ 1.2 billion, and $ 1.1 billion. , respectively.