As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Elon Musk activated Starlink’s satellite-based Internet service in Ukraine and says he will send additional terminals.
Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov had requested that Elon Musk help Ukraine maintain critical Internet connectivity amid service interruptions. He also says that Ukraine is forming an “IT army” and needs digital talent, including cyber specialists.
Internet service was especially interrupted in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, where most of the fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces is occurring. This affects both military operations and civilians who remain in their home cities. Many of the latter swore that they would defend their homes against the invading Russian forces.
NetBlocks director Alp Toker said, “”We currently observe national connectivity at 87% of ordinary levels, a figure that reflects service disruptions as well as population flight and the shuttering of homes and businesses since the morning of the 24th.”
That figure briefly dropped to 20% of major Ukrainian Internet service provider GigaTrans’ normal connectivity.
Starlink already had a presence in nearby Poland with speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. SpaceX ambitions for Starlink include providing high-speed Internet service worldwide. SpaceX President Gwynn Shotwell has acknowledged that revenue from Starlink could help fund the development of hardware needed to transport cargo and crews to Mars if it can gain a respectable market share for the satellite Internet niche.
Elon Musk and SpaceX had already shown a willingness to help provide critical connectivity in a crisis, including providing terminals to Kentucky to assist with tornado recovery, sending terminals to an island that lost connectivity due to a volcanic eruption, and helping Washington State combat raging wildfires at a time when cell phone service providers were throttling connectivity for the firefighters involved.
One of SpaceX’s current Starlink-related projects involves developing a terminal that can be mounted to large vehicles like RVs and buses, which could be useful for providing mobile connectivity for first responders.
The cyber group Anonymous showed a willingness to assist with the online efforts by targeting Russian sites like RT.com in an apparent denial-of-service attack. Facebook suspended advertising of Russian sites and Twitter described the steps it is taking, including suspending advertising in Ukraine and Russia and monitoring high-profile accounts, to make sure reliable information makes it through, in the Twitter thread starting in the below tweet.
Cryptocurrency insiders are also making donations to Ukraine to help it buy supplies. More than $3 million in Ether and Ethereum-based tokens have already been donated to a confirmed Ukrainian cryptocurrency address. A supporter of Elon Musk’s favorite cryptocurrency, known only as “Greg,” did ask if he could donate Dogecoin.