Hectobillionaire Elon Musk said the SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband service was now available in Ukraine. His company is sending more terminals to the country, where the Russian invasion interrupted internet access, world media reported.
He was responding to a tweet by Ukraine deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who asked for his help:
@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia tries to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
Internet access severely impacted
The Russian invasion has impacted internet connectivity in Ukraine severely, especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country, which have seen the heaviest conflict, internet monitors said on Saturday.
Satellite technology is very expensive to deploy, but its benefits far outweigh that downside. It gives people in isolated areas access to internet. Cell towers and fiber optic cables can’t because they don’t reach these areas.
When natural disasters or other adverse effects disrupt communication, satellite technology can be a critical backup.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite-based internet constellation intended to blanket the planet in high-speed broadband and could potentially bring connectivity to billions of people who still lack reliable internet access.
Using advanced satellites in a low orbit, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet. Users can expect to see download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s and latency as low as 20ms in most locations.
Swarms of satellites
Deployment will require swarms of satellites operating in low-Earth orbit to ensure consistent coverage. In SpaceX’s case, the height is around 340 miles.
Last month, Musk shared that SpaceX had 1,469 active satellites. 272 are moving to operational orbits soon.
In January, Starlink was used in Tonga, an archipelago in the South Pacific, to connect remote villages after an underwater volcano erupted. CNN reported that the eruption was probably the biggest in the world in over three decades.
World holds its breath for talks this morning
President Vladimir Putin has placed Russia’s deterrence forces on high alert. They include nuclear forces. Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations are expected to take place this morning.
According to the US Defense Department, the internet is still generally accessible in Ukraine despite “intermittent” power outages.
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