Starlink Plans to Join FCC’s Broadband Subsidy Program

Dec 20, 2023

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband 

Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2023 – Elon Musk’s global satellite Internet company Starlink is close to joining a major federal broadband subsidy program.

David Goldman, Vice President of Satellite Policy for SpaceX, disclosed today that Starlink plans to enter the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) run by the Federal Communications Commission for the past two years.

“We are eligible for it, and we are planning on participating. We haven’t turned it on yet.” Goldman said today on a webcast sponsored by Broadband Breakfast.

Starlink’s standard unlimited data plan costs $120 a month in addition to the upfront equipment charge of $599. The ACP provides a $30 a month discount on monthly broadband bills for eligible households.

Starlink, Goldman said, has deployed about 5,500 satellites into low earth orbit – about 340 miles in the sky. He said current generation satellites have four times the capacity of earlier versions, meaning more customers can be served with “urban-quality” broadband.

“We also are available anywhere in the United States, all 50 states, and we have cleared any kind of backlog that we have,” Goldman said, adding that Starlink serves more than 2 million subscribers globally.

Hosted by Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, the webinar also included: Kalpak Gude, Head of Domestic Regulatory Affairs, Project Kuiper; Kelly Martin, Account Director, Eutelsat OneWeb; and Martin Marshall, Senior Sales Engineer Services & Platforms, Eutelsat OneWeb.

The ACP – which originally received $14.2 billion from Congress to help with the recovery from COVID-19 – is expected to run out of money by next April. That could impact up to 25 million households, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in Nov. 30 House testimony. President Biden has requested $6 billion to keep ACP going.

Senior Capitol Hill Republicans have pushed back on Rosenworcel’s estimate, pointing to data from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) that only 16% to 22% of current ACP enrollees did not have Internet access prior to the launch of the ACP.