FCC denial of Starlink RDOF award a 'clear error,' Carr says

Commissioner Brendan Carr believes the FCC's decision to deny Starlink's RDOF award means some families will be 'stuck waiting on the wrong side of the digital divide.' #pressrelease

August 24, 2022

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a recent move, FCC leadership abruptly reversed the agency's decision to issue Elon Musk's Starlink an $885 million infrastructure award that Starlink had won at an FCC auction in 2020, and it did so without a vote or authorization from the agency's Commissioners. As the winning bidder, Starlink had a commitment to provide high-speed Internet service to 642,925 unserved rural homes and businesses across 35 states. Instead, many of those families and communities will now be stuck waiting on the wrong side of the digital divide. While the agency had limited remit to review the 2020 award, its decision here plainly exceeds the scope of that authority. More broadly, this agency action mirrors a broader set of infrastructure missteps by the Administration—ones that Carr has previously highlighted.

Commissioner Carr issued the following statement:

"I was surprised to find out by an FCC press release issued earlier this month that agency leadership had suddenly reversed course on an $885 million infrastructure award that Elon Musk's Starlink won in 2020 to provide high-speed Internet service to unconnected Americans. The agency's decision here mirrors the Administration's broader set of infrastructure missteps by costing taxpayer dollars while leaving rural communities behind.

"As an initial matter, this a very curious outcome because the reasons the agency offers for backtracking on this infrastructure decision do not withstand even casual scrutiny. Indeed, the reversal constitutes clear error and plainly exceeds agency authority.

"First, the FCC's announcement claims that the agency is acting to 'avoid extensive delays in providing needed service to rural areas.' Yet that is exactly the outcome that this decision ensures. The FCC's 2020 award to Starlink secured a commitment for the delivery of high-speed Internet service to 642,925 unserved rural homes and businesses across 35 states. By reversing course, the FCC has just chosen to vaporize that commitment and replace it with . . . nothing. That's a decision to leave families waiting on the wrong side of the digital divide when we have the technology to get them high-speed service today."

Read Carr's full statement here.

FCC

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