Starlink satellite internet service was expected to begin rollout in Ukraine sometime in 2023. However, following the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, a Ukrainian leader made a public appeal to Elon Musk for Starlink service when attacks affected internet access. Musk responded that service coverage had been activated and a limited number of dishes were on their way to Ukrainian officials. By February 28th, 2022, a shipment of Starlink terminals had been delivered to Ukrainian leaders.

Starlink Service Limited Availability in Ukraine

There has been mass movement of portions of the Ukrainian population as civilians attempt to move to safety. Areas with the most demand for satellite internet service may shift, depending on which areas next come under assault. Contested regions with active combat are not simple to access logistically. Overall, internet usage in Ukraine has lowered in areas where greater portions of the population have vacated a region. Delivery logistics are unfeasible in places with ongoing attack.

As of spring 2022, Starlink dish access in Ukraine was limited primarily to the number Musk sent to leaders. (When satellite coverage was activated, a Ukrainian software engineer with a secondhand dish and account reported also being able to connect to the internet.)

Ongoing developments make the timeframe for further rollout of Starlink service in Ukraine unclear.

Starlink Infrastructure Support in Ukraine

Internet access in Ukraine became unpredictable due to attacks on infrastructure. Starlink is thought to have its nearest ground towers outside Ukraine in places like Poland. At the outset of the Russian invasion, Starlink ground station placement would seem to put them at lower risk of attack.

While the Starlink dishes can provide quick internet access, all equipment depends on electricity to work. Sporadic power outages interrupted consistent access to Starlink internet in Ukraine. In early March, a Ukrainian official again reached out publicly to Musk for ideas on reliable power back-up, like generators. Musk recommended solar panels and battery packs instead, since they donít create visual location identifiers like smoke, donít leave a heat signature for weapons, and donít run out of fuel during a time of uncertain supply chains.

Starlink Service Best Practices in Active War Zones

Although the number of active Starlink dishes in Ukraine is limited, Musk issued a recommendation for users in areas under attack. Some aircraft equipment is able to triangulate location based on satellite signals. When the location is identified, it essentially creates a target and attack can then be carried out.

In these cases, Musk recommends that users:

Future dish delivery dates and scaling up of Starlink service in Ukraine are pending removal of invading forces.

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