Ukraine Utilizing Starlink Satellite System for Communications as Russia Bombs Mobile Towers

  • Bureau
  • 03:45 PM, December 28, 2022
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Ukraine Utilizing Starlink Satellite System for Communications as Russia Bombs Mobile Towers
Artist's illustration of Starlink internet satellites in orbit @Starlink

Ukrainians have made use of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet systems for communications as Russia continues to target mobile towers in what is touted to be the first major war of the internet age.

Ukraine has some 30,000 mobile-phone towers, and the government is now trying to link them to generators so they can keep working when airstrikes damage the power grid. Many cities and towns are facing power cuts lasting up to 10 hours.

Citizens have turned to Starlink when blackouts last longer.

"We should understand that in this case, the Starlinks and the towers, connected to the generators, will be the basic internet infrastructure,” Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has instructed mobile phone companies to provide signals without electricity for at least three days.

Related news: After Spat with Zelensky, Elon Musk Pulls the Plug on Starlink Satcom Services for Ukraine

Musk’s SpaceX has provided about 24,000 Starlink stations to Ukraine. Kyiv now is working to bring 10,000 more stations with the support of its European Union partners. Fedorov did not publicly identify which governments are contributing towards the payments but confirmed that there’s currently no contract in place and that Ukraine will need to find additional funding by spring 2023.

"We have a lot of Starlinks, but the key point is we have got a nod for another shipment that will be used to stabilize connection for critical situations," he said.

Starlink allows for internet services made available to the public through hundreds of "Points of Invincibility” that offer warm drinks, heated spaces, electricity and shelter for people displaced by fighting or power outages.

SpaceX began delivering the Starlink stations during the early days of the war after Fedorov tweeted a request to the billionaire.

Starlink has helped front-line reconnaissance drone operators target artillery strikes on Russian weapons and positions.

The minister compared Space X's donation of the terminals to the U.S.-supplied multiple rocket launchers in terms of significance.

"Thousands of lives were saved,” he said.

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