Starlink had asked the US FCC for substantial new aid of $885.5 million. But the agency finally decided to block the funds, angering the entrepreneur. Elon Musk’s firm therefore logically decided to appeal. But the firm’s arguments seem somewhat exaggerated.
And in many ways, on top of that. First, we note that Elon Musk has said and repeated many times his aversion to state aid. A position that fits a priori with his libertarian convictions. Last year, the entrepreneur launched, for example: “I’m literally saying cut all state aid. But in this case, it must also be done for oil and gas”.
Elon Musk calls latest FCC denial ‘unfair’
However, we note a first enormous paradox. His companies, in particular Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity have been largely helped by public funds since their launch. In a 2015 article, the Los Angeles Times reported that these three firms had benefited from 4.9 billion dollars in the form of public aid.
In 2021, Elon Musk criticized Joe Biden for his plan for electric vehicles and the financial aid provided for by the text. In 2022, an analyst firm discovered that Tesla sold 6 billion in tax credits – which could have boosted the manufacturer’s results.
In this case, the FCC denied Starlink funds from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund which should be used to better connect rural areas to the internet in the United States. For Starlink lawyers, the FCC decision “is tainted with irregularities both from the point of view of law and policy”.
The firm believes it has “proven capabilities” corresponding “according to the rules of the program”, and accuses the commission of having “pulled additional information from somewhere on the internet” and to base his argument on “conjectures that lack support”.
Further, SpaceX launches: “Changing the rules to undo a prior policy is grossly unfair after investing thousands of hours of hired labor and millions of dollars spent to meet program obligations on the reasonable assumption that [la FCC] would apply its rules impartially”.
In the event of a new refusal, the firm’s lawyers could try to take the case to court. Which would be paradoxical, to say the least, given the attitude of the entrepreneur towards anything resembling subsidies… which could also benefit his competitors.