Associations Ask If Starlink™ Will Meet Federal Broadband Requirements

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The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, last week submitted a technical assessment and model to aid the FCC’s efforts to scrutinize the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) long-form applications for Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) Satellite broadband networks. The FCC awarded almost $900M of assigned RDOF funds to SpaceX™ with a commitment to connect 640,000 locations across the U.S. with its Starlink™ satellite broadband technology, Inside Towers reported. 

One analysis, based upon current publicly available information, estimates that Starlink would face a capacity shortfall by 2028, and over 56 percent of Starlink’s RDOF subscribers would not be fully served. The FBA said the analysis provides a roadmap for the FCC to evaluate more information as it becomes available and to verify ultimately whether the network will in fact perform as promised in the RDOF auction.

“We applaud the FCC’s efforts to provide broadband subsidies as we work to eliminate the rural and urban digital divide,” said FBA President/CEO Gary Bolton. “Our goal with our latest FCC filing is to provide tools and technical analysis that will support more indicative assessments of incipient technologies so that the agency can ensure that RDOF winners can deliver the broadband performance promised.”

“NTCA members are based in the rural communities they serve and recognize the great hope that the RDOF auction offers for Americans living in other rural areas that lack quality broadband. But, steps must be taken to ensure that the RDOF auction delivers on this promise – and that winning bidders will deliver more specifically on their own promises to rural America,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA. 

“NTCA called upon the FCC to vet bidders more thoroughly before the auction given the stakes. This did not happen, making it all the more important now to examine carefully each bidder’s ability to perform. If each winning bidder performs as promised, only then can we declare the auction a success. We must do the hard work today to confirm capabilities rather than discovering any issues only years from now – and it is in this spirit that we offer recommendations in this filing for such due diligence.”

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