Elon Musk said his SpaceX company would continue to fund its Starlink internet service in Ukraine, a day after he said he could not fund the project.
In a U-turn, the world’s richest man cited the need for “good deeds” after saying he could no longer afford to keep the satellite provider operating in the war-torn country.
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“Hell…even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are getting billions in taxpayer revenue, we will continue to fund the Ukrainian government for free,” he tweeted.
Musk Seemingly keen to win back some goodwill from Kyiv, by floating earlier this month “Peace Plan” These include holding new elections in illegally annexed areas Vladimir Putin.
He provides Starlink to Ukraine after the February invasion been welcomedand has proven to be the key to success on the battlefield Vladimir Zelenskypower.
Ukraine’s special envoy Oksana Markarova said Starlink was “the only connection we have” in parts of the country, stressing that it was “very important” to keep it running.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite internet company that prides itself on its ability to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband to the world’s most challenging environments – from vast rural areas, to active war zones in Ukraine.
Dr. Viktor Doychinov, a satellite communications researcher at the Bradford-Renduchintala Center for Artificial Intelligence in Space, most succinctly describes it as “space broadband.”
“It’s like having all the base stations that normally provide cell phone coverage up in the air, in space, whizzing around the Earth,” he told Sky News.
Operated by Musk’s SpaceX company, Starlink is powered by thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit, while receiver equipment is used on the ground to connect and provide internet service.
“The device is portable, you can put it in your car or truck and go anywhere and still have internet. It’s small, it’s mobile, and it has high data rates,” Dr. Deichnov said.
The idea is that more satellites mean lower latency service than other broadband companies that have traditionally used a single satellite to orbit the planet.However, it has Sparking Light Pollution Complaints and excessive space debris.
In the UK, the entry fee is £460 for a hardware kit and £75 a month bill – not a small fee compared to the providers you might be used to.
The thinkbroadband website is already delivering download speeds of up to 106 megabytes per second, which is enough to download the latest version of FIFA on your PlayStation in just over 8 minutes.
How is Starlink used in Ukraine?
Ukraine is certainly more worried than downloading video games or streaming movies on Netflix.
Russia’s targets for the country’s infrastructure include telecommunications, and the Starlink antenna, delivered as early as February, has provided a lifeline for civilians and soldiers.
The role of Starlink broadband in making the world aware of Russia’s ruthless siege Mariupol The New York Times reported on it, and it also helped restore communications in places liberated by Ukrainian forces.
Dr Deichnov said the technology could prove “extremely valuable” for troops operating in areas with poor cellphone coverage or damaged infrastructure.
It can be used for “surveillance photos of the battlefield, video feeds from drones, very fast and responsive communications with commanders”.
“Because Starlink orbits so close to Earth, the time for the signal to travel from the user terminal to the satellite and back to the person you’re talking to is very short,” he said.
“As long as you have a clear sky overhead, you can connect to Starlink and from there to the wider internet. If you carry the device with you, you are much more resilient to any disruption.”
However, Starlink did not prove to be a perfect solution. In early October, the Financial Times reported that there had been “catastrophic” temporary blackouts in Kherson and Zaporozhye as Ukrainian troops advanced.
Unusual in normal business but a branding move for Musk, the initial supply of Starlink was handled through direct communication with Ukraine’s digital minister on Twitter.
Musk has since complained about the lack of financial support from the U.S. government to continue providing Starlink.
Starlink became a registered internet provider in Ukraine in April and currently has over 23,000 systems in operation.