SpaceX launched a legal challenge against a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) move to backtrack on a plan to award the company almost $900 million in subsidies, arguing the decision was flawed in law and policy.

In a regulatory filing, SpaceX senior director of policy David Goldman branded the FCC’s decision to drop a plan to award the company $885.5 million of an overall $9.2 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) pot as unfair.

The FCC had tentatively approved the subsidies, but chair Jessica Rosenworcel last month cancelled the award, questioning SpaceX’s consumer business model.

In the appeal, Goldman said the decision appeared “to have been rendered in service to a clear bias towards fibre, rather than a merits-based decision to actually connect underserved Americans”.

SpaceX planned to use the subsidies to help to provide connectivity services through its constellation of Starlink satellites to 642,925 locations across 35 states.

In its appeal document, SpaceX stated it was hard not to see it as an improper attempt to undo the FCC’s earlier decision, made under the previous administration, to permit satellite providers to participate in the RDOF programme.

FCC commissioner Brendan Carr has also hit out the decision, claiming the reversal constitutes clear error and exceeds agency authority.