Downing: Elon Musk’s Starlink bridges the rural digital divide, but Biden’s FCC is stuck on stupid

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By SUZANNE DOWNING

Look up in the night sky this month: It’s the Geminids meteor shower putting on a show … or it just might be a Starlink satellite orbiting to provide communications connectivity to rural America.

For good or ill, America is increasingly dependent on digital connectivity. But as West and East coasts have locked in high speed broadband, vast portions of rural America were left behind, struggling with unreliable or nonexistent internet access. 

Enter Starlink, the game-changing space-based satellite broadband by SpaceX, which is revolutionizing communications across rural America, while improving internet speeds for Flyover States that President Joe Biden will never win in 2024.

Yet, in the face of innovation, progress, Elon Musk’s own private capital investment, and provable successes of Starlink’s low-orbit satellites, Biden’s Federal Communications Commission is telling Musk to take a hike. The FCC wants fiber optic cable at great cost, not Starlink at a lower cost.

It all traces back to President Biden’s vendetta against Musk, which ramped up to warp speed after Musk’s acquisition of X/Twitter in 2022, when Musk unleashed, almost overnight, the world’s most vibrant free-speech platform. 

Musk has used that platform to throw a few deserved digs at the Biden Administration for its suppression of free speech under the previous Twitter ownership. 

The billionaire entrepreneur, once he looked into the files at Twitter, produced the receipts to show that the federal government had been continuously collaborating with social media giants Twitter and Facebook to suppress the speech of conservatives.

Biden worries about public sentiment turning against him, and he’s trying to cripple Musk by proxy through federal agencies, according to Trump-appointed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who is in the minority on the commission.

Biden’s statements a year ago about how Musk’s cooperation with foreign countries  were “worthy of being looked at” in “a lot of way” gave a green light for government agencies to initiate investigations into all-things Musk World.

The Department of Justice, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and even the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service initiated investigations into Musk or his businesses, Commissioner Carr said in his letter of dissent.

This relentless hounding of Musk looks an awful lot like regulatory harassment.

The three Democrats who comprise the majority on the five-member FCC, in denying a grant for satellite launches, claim that Starlink simply failed to meet their standards. Carr says those standards couldn’t be met by anyone, ever, and are being applied solely to Starlink.

Consider Starlink’s recent track record:

When Russia disabled Ukraine’s internet, Starlink swiftly deployed low-orbit satellites, providing critical connectivity to the embattled nation. 

In the Gaza strip, Starlink offered humanitarian aid with the approval of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, after Hamas had started a war with Israel and Netanyahu disabled internet in Gaza so Hamas could not use it for terrorism communications.

The Starlink service also came to the rescue of Tonga after a volcano erupted, severing communication lines in December, 2021.

Starlink stepped in to restore internet service to Alaska’s Arctic coastline after an undersea fiber optic cable was cut by moving ice in June of this year, leaving isolated communities stranded without internet access for months. 

These actions by Starlink were undertaken without government subsidies. But even Musk’s billions can only go so far. Right now, the federal government says it is trying to expand broadband in America, and it looks like it will help anyone, at any cost, so long as their name is not Elon Musk.

Starlink’s satellite megaconstellation is made up of over 5,000 operational satellites, now delivering high-speed internet to millions across the world in 40 countries and counting. This technology represents a giant leap forward in connectivity, especially for disadvantaged areas, like Alaska.

Yet in Alaska, the feds just awarded one tribal group – Tanana Chiefs Conference — a $35 million grant that costs U.S. taxpayers $365,000 for each household hooked up to fiber in three villages, Venetie (pop. 126 with 39 households), Chalkyitsik (pop. 118, with 40 households), and Circle (pop. 42, with 17 households).

Then, the taxpayers will also underwrite the maintenance and operations of these fiber optic systems to these communities of less than 100 households.

In Nuiqsut, Alaska, where there are 125 households, the cost-per-household, born by U.S. taxpayers, is $320,000. 

Alaska is a perfect place for space-based satellite internet. The fiber optic plan is nowhere near sufficient for the geography. Other parts of America, even those not at the edge of the world like Alaska, are also well-suited for this leapfrog technology.

It is time for the FCC to put aside political vendettas and embrace progress. 

Suzanne Downing is founder and managing editor of Must Read Alaska.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Musk, love him or hate him, marches to his own drum. He thinks for himself and makes decisions based on his own evaluations.

    In today’s world, that’s commendable.

  2. Have Starlink since the launch in AK. Great service and three of us can stream shows simultaneously and post to MRAK, and the draw is so low that it barely runs the batteries down. We don’t need no stinkin’ fiberoptic.

  3. But Musk must be silenced!….
    We are not allowed to hear the truth (from him)
    Joe Biden promised us the truth as He (and his press secretary sees it)

  4. I am still trying to figure out why fiber optic cables in the north are so important to the Big House. I heard Alex Jones say that an “elite” has a bunker above the Arctic Circle; I am not sure which continent. Sure is interesting this push for fiber optic cable. Maybe they are laying something alongside the fiber optic cable that they are not telling us about?

    Fiber Optic Cable unique benefits (‘https://www.belden.com/blogs/smart-building/5-unique-benefits-of-fiber-optic-cable/)
    1. Fiber Supports Very High Bandwidth Levels
    2. Fiber is Inherently Secure
    3. Fiber is Intrinsically Safe
    4. Fiber Withstands Water and Temperature Fluctuations
    5. Fiber is Immune to EMI…..”Fiber cables, however, don’t produce electromagnetic interference (EMI). They aren’t impacted by EMI, either.”

    • They want fiber in the Arctic because the telco companies who install and operate it launder the federal $$$ paying for the installation back to democrats as campaign funds. Works just like the union $$$ laundering operation does.

      Musk isn’t laundering $$$ back to anyone. Cheers –

  5. I applaud Musk for taking on the rampant censorship of the illegitimate China Joe Potatohead regime, but it is simply a fact that one day, very possibly in the near or very near future, a large solar storm WILL take out all these Starlink satellites, and undoubtedly many or most others (not to mention play havoc with many other electrical and electronic systems).

    All this wireless digital technology has a sword of Damocles hanging over it, and one day the thread holding it up will break. Then what? I am almost to the point of wishing for that day.

    • Jefferson, you sound eerily similar to those predicting a climate apocalypse and the world being gone in 10, oh no now 8 years (according to AOC). If a solar storm of that magnitude hits us, we will have much bigger problems than Starlink connectivity.
      In my opinion this is what this country is all about. We don’t necessarily invent the widget, but we generally make it better, improving the lives of millions around the world.
      So Damocles and his sword can go back to Greece and play some shuffle board with Zeus and Hera on Mount Olympus.

      • Taxpayer, no, my prediction is in no way comparable to those of the climate alarmists. Solar storms of that magnitude DO happen, and WILL happen, it is only a matter of when. The Carrington Event in 1859, if it hit today, would utterly decimate the world’s electrical grid and most electronic devices, and it was far from a unique event. In fact, a fair number of similar massive solar storms HAVE already occurred just within the last few decades, they just happened to not be directed towards earth. But eventually, another one will.

        That is not alarmism, that is simply fact, just as it is fact to predict that Alaska will experience a large earthquake, somewhere, within the next ten years, or that Oklahoma will experience at least one major tornado next year — because the historical record proves it.

        • Sorry Jefferson it was the way you presented it:
          “very possibly in the near or very near future, a large solar storm WILL take out all these Starlink satellites.”
          That was reminiscent of AOC and her crazy predictions of earth’s demise in less than a decade.
          I agree solar flares or storms are more common and will create havoc not only with satellites but with ALL our electrical systems. We will potentially be back to horse and buggy or purely mechanical machinery and only the Cubans and their old cars will have a chance to go somewhere….
          I believe in the ingenuity of mankind and that we will figure out a way to survive and thrive. Not doing something because of doom and gloom potentials isn’t a way to move us forward.

          • Agree, Taxpayer, future large solar storms (or even EMP events) are not an automatic death sentence for civilization. But action needs to be taken, and money spent, to harden and protect the electrical grid and other critical components of our electronics-based technology and infrastructure, action and money that for the most part are not being taken and being spent.

  6. We were told we couldn’t have decent internet at our new property in Nikiski by GCI and Alaska Communications. They claimed this after COVID and CRT woke us up to the wokeness. We had never been told by these companies “Sorry, we can’t do business with you” in Nikiski until then. We had already rented, owned, and sold a few properties in Nikiski by then. Meanwhile, we were told Native villages with very little inhabitants would receive hundreds of millions of dollars to get internet. Finally, Starlink was available at our property in Nikiski. I’m loving Elon Musk! We always have internet now, and faster than ever!

  7. take a look at bethel’s onc tribe just giving its 40 million directly to gci through thr proxy bnc without any thought. bnc is a broke crap show itself with no Tech background run by the one family just like the tribe…conflict of interest anyone? all around the time dr jill came to push it. A week later gci used that $ to pay its 40 million fine. we have idiots running around thinking they are gna run fiber on ground so remote no one travels there. marsh. tundra. peoples property. Refuge. no planning. no foresight. No input at all! Just screw you if your name dont start with a certain letter. we gna run fiber even if your village would rather stick with starlink. in the end, we get nothing. Maybe another huge monthly expense.

  8. You have quite the imagination. The utter emptiness and sadness of Musk’s apologists and cultists grows deeper ever day. Get help!

  9. Wow Jefferson , maybe the commercial airliners need to be hard wired . Just about everything on the planet is wireless . Come on man

    Starting to sound like Alex Jones

    • Dan, you clearly have no idea of the existence of solar storms (aside from possible man-made EMP events), nor their regularity, nor their potential impact. Speaking from ignorance does not an argument make.

        • Oh, I guess that changes everything, then, and completely invalidates everything that I have ever written here, or elsewhere online.

          Now, do you want to try again, this time with something intelligent and not frank rast-afarian trollish and inane?

  10. Meanwhile Starlink continues to launch. Every launch out of Vandenberg fills out polar coverage. Launches out of the Cape fill out coverage over the rest of the planet.

    Fiber on the Slope was out for months after ice scouring broke their fiber line. Prudhoe Bay, the producers, and most of the rest of the Slope filled the void with Starlink. They aren’t going back to fiber. Cheers –

    • I wish, but unfortunately not true. Just because it launches from Vandenberg does not mean it’s polar. All Starlink Vandenberg launches from June through now, as well as upcoming, have went into lower latitude orbits that don’t benefit most of Alaska. Groups 6 and 7 have been launching from Vandenberg have a 43 degree and 53 degree inclination respectively. The last polar Starlink launch was from Vandenberg May 30. I hope they continue with polar and high latitude launches soon but so far none are planned in the next few months at least.

  11. Add the FCC to the long list of Federal Agencies that the Democrats & Uniparty have weaponized. This is not coincidental. This is a calculated plan to overturn the USA with a bloodless coup.

  12. You’ve got to follow the money. ASTAC is struggling to stay afloat after most customers on the slope switched to starlink during the fiber cable break. Now quintillion wants to put down a redundant cable on land. Fiber is fast but it’s not 100% and most households are fine with Starlink.

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