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SpaceX’s Starlink Wins $885.5 Million in FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 7, 2020
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Sixty Starlink satellites separate from a Falcon 9 second stage on April 22, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX website)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded SpaceX $885.5 million over 10 years to bring its Starlink satellite broadband service to remote areas across the country.

The funding is part of $9.2 billion the FCC awarded under the first phase of the $16 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The FCC awarded funding to 180 bidders, which will provide broadband service to 49 states and the Northern Mariana Islands.

BidderAssigned SupportLocations AssignedNumber of States
LTD Broadband LLC$1,320,920,718.60528,08815
CCO Holdings, LLC (Charter Communications)$1,222,613,870.101,057,69524
Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium$1,104,395,953.00618,47622

SpaceX received the fourth largest amount of funding of the 180 bidders, but it will provide services to the large number of states (35). The table above shows the top four bidders by funding awarded.

Rural broadband services to be provided with government funding. (Credit: FCC)

The map above shows rural areas that will be provided with broadband services. SpaceX’s locations are marked in red.

SpaceX has launched 955 Starlink satellites, with an estimated 901 still in orbit. The rest of the spacecraft have been deorbited.

Elon Musk’s company has begun public beta testing in the United States. Last month, the Canadian government granted approval to SpaceX to begin offering service in that nation.

SpaceX plans to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites in order to provide fast, low latency broadband services around the world.

Hughes Network Systems, which also provides services by satellite, was awarded $1,273,784 for 3,678 locations in Rhode Island.

“I’m thrilled with the incredible success of this auction, which brings welcome news to millions of unconnected rural Americans who for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide. They now stand to gain access to high-speed, high-quality broadband service,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

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