A few weeks ago we reported about Starlink in Ukraine. In our article we followed how SpaceX quickly responded to a Ukrainian government call on Twitter to help keep the internet working in strategic locations in war-struck Ukraine.
The invasion of Russian troops into the territory of Ukraine is accompanied by a huge stream of news and updates, many of which shocked the world.
A few weeks into the war, and there is more news about the relationship between Starlink and Ukraine.
How did it start? The Story of Starlink in Ukraine
A summary of the story until this week:
- On February 26 the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, asked Elon Musk on Twitter “to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations..”
- Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, said that the company had been working for weeks to secure approval for Starlink services in Ukraine. The Minister’s tweet became such a permission.
- On March 5, the first Starlink terminals arrived in the Ukrainian capital.
- Elon Musk’s Twitter opponent, also known as his competitor in the “new space race”, the director of Russian space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin, reacted emotionally to the cooperation of SpaceX with the Ukrainian government.
- Despite the rumors that anyone could connect to this satellite-based internet connection, the Ukrainian authorities repeatedly emphasized, the satellite internet system only worked at strategic facilities, within short range of the Starlink terminals.
- Starlink has become the most downloaded application in Ukraine
Ukrainian Army Uses Starlink Internet to Destroy Russian Military Equipment
The Ukrainian edition of “Сегодня” (Today), reported late March that the Ukrainian military uses drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras that can detect Russian vehicles at night. The Starlink internet system ensures that the drones can work even if there are internet or power outages.
Starlink for Everyone
Simultaneously, there were reports that Starlink would become publicly available in Ukraine. The Ukrainian edition of “Сегодня” (Today) assumed that the Starlink equipment will be used for better mobile Internet signals in the regions most affected by the war.
The Telegram channel of the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine reported that together with the National Commission that regulates electronic communications, radio frequency spectrum and postal services, an order was developed that will ensure the regulation of the use of SpaceX Starlink satellite internet by mobile operators, to ensure communication and internet connectivity.
Victoria Pavlovskaya, press secretary for Ukrainian mobile operator Vodafone, announced on her Facebook page on April 1 that in Irpin and Romanovka, Kyiv region, for the first time in the history of Ukraine, communication was restored using Starlink satellite equipment. She stated:
“It is now possible to ensure the smooth operation of this segment of the network even in the absence of Internet access through a traditional underground transport network. This scheme allows us to quickly restore mobile communications where communication links are damaged.
This is our first time connecting via satellite. In terms of technology convergence, this is the second case in the world after Japan (where KDDI launched a similar solution earlier), and in terms of extreme conditions, the first in the world!
To the men and women of the Vodafone technical department: You are real telecom cyborgs!”
Currently, as the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine reports, internet quality from Starlink in eastern Ukraine is not as good as in the west: “This can be explained by the fact that Ukraine does not have its own Starlink ground station. The nearest stations are in Poland, Lithuania, and Turkey”.
Fear for the Present and Faith in the Future
Starlink equipment in Ukraine / Images via Mykhailo Fedorov’s Telegram channel
The Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, continues to share updates about the work of Starlink in Ukraine. On his Telegram channel, Mr Fedorov reported that the village of Plakhtyanka, in the Kyiv region, was connected to Starlink on April 6 in the same way as Irpin and Romanovka a few days earlier.
“We can assume that the cities of Ukraine will be connected to the Internet one by one”
Meanwhile, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab (an academic laboratory at the Munch School of Global Relations and Public Policy at the University of Toronto), warns that Starlink carries risks because the signal from satellite dishes can be tracked by the Russian military, reports DOU.
Any war, no matter how destructive, cannot last forever. The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine announced that “after the victory, together with Elon Musk, we plan to build our own Starlink ground station to improve the quality of satellite Internet for all Ukrainians.”
Groundstation supports Ukraine
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Featured image credit: Ukraine at night is much darker than neighboring countries / Сredit: VIIRS, Suomi NPP (March 6, 2022)