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SpaceX’s Starlink constellation wins $885 million in federal subsidies

Capitalism in space: In awarding $9.2 billion in subsidies to providers of rural high-speed internet to rural customers, the FCC gave $885 million of this allocation to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation.

SpaceX was not the biggest beneficiary, however.

Most of the RDOF Phase I subsidies are going to terrestrial broadband service providers, led by LTD Broadband with an award of $1.32 billion. CCO Holdings, a subsidiary of Charter Communications, is due to serve 1.05 million sites around the country, leading the list for that metric.

The FCC said 85% of the 5.2 million sites to be served would get gigabit-speed broadband. SpaceX is due to serve nearly 643,000 sites with download speeds of 100 megabits per second or more.

Regardless of its good intentions, this distribution of federal cash sickens me. These companies don’t need it to do what they are doing, and are all sure to make plenty of profit without it. The federal government meanwhile is trillions in debt. It has to print money to give this away, something that is not going to go well in the long run.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • janyuary

    “Regardless of its good intentions, this distribution of federal cash sickens me.”

    BRAVO Robert.

    Another horrific danger in this is that average folks will wrongly conclude that without government help (taking fruits of labor by force from citizens and redistributing it for the “common good”), none of this could have happened.

    When the truth is that without government fouling the free market well, it may well have happened faster, cheaper, and safer.

  • J Fincannon

    $885 million not $885 (we wish).

  • J Fincannon: Thank you. I inserted the “million.”

    What would I do without my readers?

  • Edward

    Add to the complaints about these kinds of government actions: this is another example of government choosing winners. janyuary is correct. We do not have the free market that we think we do.

  • Col Beausabre

    Among other things, I’m a rail enthusiast. I’m constantly having arguments with High Speed Rail fans who just assume that it is a law of nature that such systems must ne built and subsidized by the government (I’m looking at you, California). They have no response when I ask why the job can’t be done by private enterprise. If there is a NEED for HSR between two points, somebody will be willing to pay to ride it and if there is money to be made, the smart boys and girls on Wall Street will be there to fund it. If there isn’t – it’s waste of money. If it won’t pay its own way it shouldn’t be built. My reason for bringing this up is that it illustrates how whole sectors of the economy are dependent of wasteful government spending. (And you can build and run a private HSR, see Brightline and Texas Central)

    And please, don’t even bring up Musk’s bogus “Hyperloop” garbage.

  • janyuary

    Col Beau … don’t even get me, a 5th-generation Californian who’s old, started on the lunatic high-speed rail between two places with zero demand to be connected …!!!! Please understand that almost all of the far left politicians called "Californians," like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, are no more Californian than I am a New Yorker. If I moved there and lived there for 40 years I'd still be a Californian in New York, but I'd respect it, as opposed to newcomers with airs who want to “fix” the “hick” state they’ve moved to, for the good of everybody they arrogantly assume.

    This dynamic is across the board … almost all of the baby-boom generation hippy dippy vegetarian “statement” lefties in California that I’ve known and loved over the decades in my personal life, were from (in this order) the East Coast born and raised, the Midwest, and a sprinkling from the South. Here in Ca, meanwhile, say a guy who grew up surfing alongside his dad, with sun bleached hair, a deep tan, and a habit of going barefoot or in sandals and wearing clothes more geared to enjoy weather than fashion, shows up comfortable someplace, folks not from Ca assume he’s a lefty when he’s the opposite.

  • janyuary

    Gaack … italic coding goof again in post above. Oops. Maybe Mr. Z can go in and fix it.

  • pzatchok

    I do believe that this internet bonus was started by Obama as an extension of the rural phone program. A program that was no longer needed and due to be canceled.

    At least the cash went to someone who we know will spend it well and for a purpose we all pretty much agree with. Space.

  • pzatchok

    I was talking about the cash going to Musk.

    Not necessarily the others.

  • janyuary

    Mr. Z, yes, thank you! Actually, you had it fixed by the time (immediately) I wrote the post lamenting my italics code goof … by the time it posted, you’d already repaired the coding error! Superfast. Thank you, Robert. I didn’t want to post anything, such as “It’s okay if you remove that post,” because I figure you have more important things to manage! Thank you for this site.

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