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Nathan Simington FCC Commissioner regarding the FCC’s decision on Starlink Services LLC’s RDOF

FCC-23-105A3  This document is a dissenting statement by Commissioner Nathan Simington of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the FCC’s decision on Starlink Services LLC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Here’s a summary of the key points:

  1. Agreement with Commissioner Carr’s Dissent: Simington expresses full agreement with the dissent of Commissioner Carr, emphasizing similar concerns.
  2. Issue with SpaceX’s RDOF Award Rescinding: The statement criticizes the FCC’s decision to rescind SpaceX’s RDOF award. It points out that the FCC is inappropriately holding SpaceX to its 2025 RDOF targets three years early, in 2022.
  3. SpaceX’s Commitment and Performance: SpaceX committed in 2020 to using its low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband service to deliver high-speed, low-latency internet to specified areas by 2025. As of June 2022, Starlink had half a million subscribers, and approximately two million by September 2023. This growth is cited as proof of SpaceX’s capability.
  4. Comparison with Other RDOF Recipients: Simington notes that many RDOF recipients had not deployed any service by 2022, whereas SpaceX had already made significant progress. The argument is that SpaceX is being unfairly held to a different standard because it uses new LEO technology, even though this technology was known and accepted at the time of SpaceX’s RDOF application.
  5. SpaceX’s Technological Advancements: The statement highlights SpaceX’s success in deploying its technology and serving areas that had been previously underserved. It mentions the ongoing addition of satellites to improve service quality.
  6. Argument Against SpaceX’s Reliance on Starship Launch Platform: The FCC’s majority opinion suggested SpaceX’s potential failure to meet its 2025 commitments due to delays in the development of its Starship launch platform. Simington disputes this, stating that SpaceX never indicated reliance on Starship for meeting RDOF obligations and has successfully used Falcon 9 rockets instead.
  7. Criticism of the FCC’s Decision-Making Process: The statement expresses disappointment and criticizes the FCC’s decision as arbitrary and lawless. It questions the agency’s trustworthiness and its adherence to due process and the rule of law.

Commissioner Simington’s dissent underscores his view that the FCC’s decision was unfounded and unfairly penalizes SpaceX despite its technological advancements and significant progress in meeting its RDOF commitments.

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