Starry Astro

Just a few weeks after the FCC said it was ready to authorize Starry winning RDOF bids in eight states, the company has told the commission that it plans to default on all its winning bids, including those in one additional state.

Starry was one of the top 10 winning bidders in the RDOF, or Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, auction and had winning bids totaling about $269 million.

The news of the default came in an FCC public notice that also listed some other companies that had informed the FCC of plans to default on at least a portion of their winning bids. Also on the list are Cal.net and California Internet/GeoLinks.

Defaulting companies are subject to a base forfeiture of $3,000 per census block group, but that amount could be adjusted upward or downward.

A Starry spokesperson reportedly declined to comment on the news.

Starry Defaults

The RDOF auction was designed to award funding to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved areas, with funding for a census block group going to the company that committed to the deployment for the lowest level of support. A weighting system favored bids to deploy higher-speed service.

Starry’s bid was based on using a combination of fiber and fixed wireless to deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps. The company was put on a ready-to-authorize list in late August after the FCC reviewed and approved the company’s long-form application. But the company had not yet received full authorization, which comes after the commission has reviewed and approved a company’s bankruptcy opinion letter and letter of credit.

While the RDOF program targets rural areas, some of the areas that Starry planned to serve were not as rural as other RDOF areas. In June, Starry CEO Chet Kanojia said some of the areas for which the company had winning bids included new and as yet unserved developments or mobile home park lacking service.

In the same public notice announcing the defaults, the FCC also said it had authorized bids for another one of the top 10 winning bidders – Nextlink. Like Starry, that company also plans to use fiber and fixed wireless to support speeds up to 1 Gbps. Nextlink appeared on the same late August ready-to-authorize list as Starry.

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