Viasat Asks FCC to Revoke SpaceX Starlink’s Government Funding

Viasat satellite internet company, and now a direct competitor with SpaceX’s Starlink, has high hopes for stopping the latter’s satellite constellation from expanding – despite being awarded $885 million by the U.S. government to expand its U.S. internet offerings last year in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

In a May 21 filing, Viasat asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to halt Starlink launches, saying that if it didn’t by June 1, it would go before the U.S. court of appeals.

Keeping to its word, the company filed an Application for Review (AFR) with the court of appeals on June 1, calling on the U.S. agency to investigate decisions made on the bidding of RDOF Phase 1, otherwise entitled Auction 904, according to Space News.

While SpaceX currently operates about 1,600 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO), the company is approved to launch up to 4,400, and plans to complete its orbiting satellite constellation by the end of 2022.

According to Viasat, however, the FCC “improperly discriminate against Viasat and treat it in a fundamentally different fashion than” SpaceX, later saying that “this disparate treatment has continued after the end of” the agency’s RDOF Phase 1 auction.

A separate document filed by Viasat on June 1, the company detailed how SpaceX will be unable to deliver on capacity and coverage promises made to SpaceX in securing the RDOF funding. Viasat is also following up on fighting Starlink’s launches via environmental claims, saying that the effects of the SpaceX’s April 27 license modification allowing it to lower satellite altitudes was not properly investigated prior to approval.