STATEWIDE, Miss. (WTVA) -- During the pandemic, people or school students working from home in some counties have struggled with a lack of broadband internet.
The Federal Communications Commission has opened up money to help get coverage to those areas.
One company receiving funds is offering satellite internet service and has the attention of one public service commissioner.
Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley announced on Facebook he sent a letter to SpaceX/Starlink addressing the $499 fee the company is wanting to charge new customers.
Starlink is a subsidiary of SpaceX.
SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, recently won approval for $44,000,000 (million) in federal funding to bring its services to Mississippi.
The company now needs approval from state leaders before it can get that money. Presley is questioning SpaceX, saying he thinks the upfront fee is simply not feasible for people in Mississippi. He gave a quote listed below:
“Starlink applied for and received $44 million from the FCC in free money to provide broadband access in Mississippi. The Public Service Commission must give final approval on these projects under both state and federal law. It has been widely publicized that Starlink may charge $499 just for equipment to even be able to receive their service. The FCC has been very clear that those who win the grants awards cannot overcharge for service. I feel that asking a rural Mississippian $499 in upfront equipment cost violates the purpose of the federal funds and creates a roadblock to internet access. I’ve asked Starlink to present a plan to me that would take away this $499 upfront fee.”
Silas McDowell of Columbus uses the internet regularly for work, and his son uses it for video-gaming. He said the price is too high.
“Yeah, that’s steep,” McDowell said. “I don’t think a lot of folks will be willing to pay that.”
However, he added if SpaceX can offer something to justify that money, he might reconsider.
“Of course, the other question is what’s the monthly service gonna be, or the monthly rates gonna be after that initial 500-dollar cost,” McDowell said.
Crystal Moore of Houston agreed that people in Mississippi would likely not pay for the services.
“I think that’s extremely high,” Moore said. “People are working hard for their money to spend five hundred dollars for their internet service, I mean that’s ridiculous.”
WTVA reached out to SpaceX on Monday for comment, but has not heard back yet.