SpaceX’s Starlink scores $885m for high-speed Internet rollout in rural US

Brittany A. Roston - Dec 7, 2020, 4:30pm CST
SpaceX’s Starlink scores $885m for high-speed Internet rollout in rural US

SpaceX has received $885.5 million in federal subsidies as part of an FCC effort to expand rural Americans’ access to high-speed Internet services. The Starlink platform involves small satellites that will be able to deliver Internet services to regions where traditional cable services aren’t available or are prohibitively expensive.

The Internet has become a key part of modern life, but many people still struggle to get access due to cost or, in many cases, location. Rural regions are often forced to use slow, expensive DSL Internet services that often include low data caps. Getting faster services often requires the customer to pay the cost of running lines to their home, which can amount to thousands of dollars.

Starlink is a potential solution to this problem, using small satellites to create a network capable of offering high-speed Internet service around the world, including in rural regions. The company was one of multiple to receive federal subsidies [PDF] from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunities Fund.

The funds were awarded under the program’s Phase I auction, which offers an incentive for service providers to offer access in underserved parts of the US. According to the FCC, these funds will be distributed to recipients in monthly payments over 10 years, assuming the companies continue to meet their milestones.

Though satellite-based Internet service isn’t new, traditional services have been lackluster and unsuitable for many applications. SpaceX says its Starlink offering comes with ‘performance that far surpasses’ these traditional satellite services. The rollout is taking place slowly, however. The company started introducing a beta service in some parts of the US and Canada this year, but it plans to ‘rapidly’ expand its coverage to places around the world next year.


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