SpaceX has enabled its Starlink satellite-based internet service in Ukraine, according to CEO Elon Musk, to provide backup for internet services there which have been affected by the Russian invasion.
“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “More terminals en route.”
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
This was in response to Mykhailo Fedorov, both the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and the country’s Minister for Digital Transformation, who took to Twitter to request tech companies to take a stand in support of Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
“@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine!” Fedorov wrote, addressing Musk directly. “While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”
In addition to his requests to Musk, Fedorov also used social media to call on Facebook and Instagram to ban access to their sites from Russia, on cryptocurrency exchanges to block access from Russian users, and for Visa and Mastercard to block services with Russia.
The provision of satellite internet in Ukraine is important as there have been reports of internet access being cut off in the country during the Russian invasion, with Reuters reporting that the southern and eastern parts of the country have been particularly affected. Connectivity of Ukraine’s main largest provider, GigaTrans, had dropped as low as 20% of normal levels.
Satellite internet can enable internet access even from remote regions, but it requires a special satellite dish. Starlink terminals, the hardware which enables access to Starlink service, will be provided to Ukraine according to Musk’s tweet. It is unclear if there are any terminals already in Ukraine to enable immediate access.
SpaceX provided a similar service in Tonga earlier this year following the massive eruption of a volcano there which caused wild-spread devastation and cut off internet access. As reported by Reuters, SpaceX sent 50 Starlink terminals to the island nation to provide free internet access including to those in remote villages to help restore communications.