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FCC Clears Way for SpaceX to Vie for Rural Broadband Subsidies

  • Agency changes course to let satellite providers participate
  • Federal aid of $20 billion budgeted for spreading broadband
A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, with a payload of 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in 2019. 

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, with a payload of 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in 2019. 

Photographer: John Raoux/AP Photo

The Federal Communications Commission changed course and voted to let satellite providers such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX vie for a piece of $20 billion in federal subsidies aimed at spreading broadband in the rural U.S.

The agency, after insisting satellite companies wouldn’t be eligible to bid in much of the auction, inserted language opening the door to their participation, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday during a news conference conducted by telephone.