SpaceX is expected to cover 35 locations with the grants it will receive over the next 10 years. It must also meet a set of conditions to secure funding, TechCrunch explains, in particular by proving that it can provide broadband services in these regions for a price in line with terrestrial broadband offers. For now, Starlink beta testers should pay $ 99 per month for service, not including the initial cost of $ 499 needed for its hardware kit. In addition, SpaceX will need to comply with “periodic construction requirements” at these 35 locations to access FCC funds.
In total, the winning bidders get $ 9.2 billion of the $ 16 billion the FCC set aside for Phase 1 of the auction. The remaining amount will be carried over to phase 2, which will cover partially served areas and now has a budget of $ 11.2 billion.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement:
“I am delighted with the incredible success of this auction, which brings good news to millions of disconnected rural Americans who for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide. They now have the ability to access high quality broadband and broadband service. We have structured this innovative and revolutionary auction to be technologically neutral and to prioritize bids for high speed and low latency bids. We were aiming for maximum leverage from taxpayer dollars and networks that would meet the growing needs of consumers for broadband, and the results show that our strategy has worked. This auction was the biggest step ever to bridge the digital divide and is another major achievement of the Commission in its continued commitment to universal service. I thank our staff for working so hard and for so long to make this auction go on time, especially during the pandemic.