Ukrainians pay more for Starlink than the rest of Europe

According to the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, up to 150 thousand Starlink satellite communication terminals are currently operating in Ukraine. In general, Ukrainians pay about USD 10 million a month for them, which is more than the rest of the Europeans together.

The Ukrainian military uses Starlink. Source: Kilcoyne/Reuters

History of Starlink in Ukraine

Oleksandr Fediienko, Chairman of the Subcommittee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, has recently published his research on how many Starlink satellite Internet terminals there are in the country now and how much Ukrainians pay for them. 

Even at the beginning of the large-scale invasion, the head of SpaceX, Elon Musk, opened access to the experimental Starlink service for Ukraine as a help and subsequently transferred numerous terminals to use it. Ukraine has become the world’s largest user of these services.

However, in the autumn of 2022, the management of Starlink began to make statements about limiting the use of terminals by the Ukrainian military. This caused a number of scandals, the last of which related to the alleged shutdown of the service in the occupied Crimea during the attack, which resulted in serious damage to the Russian landing ship Minsk and the submarine Rostov-on-Don.

How many terminals are currently used in Ukraine

Using open sources, Fediienko estimated that 140–150 thousand people are currently using them in Ukraine. The same figure was confirmed to him in the center by the Starlink customer support center. About 45 thousand of them were transferred to our country by partners as technical assistance. And the other more than 100 thousand were purchased by the citizens at their own expense.

At the same time, the rest of Europe acquired about 80 thousand Starlink terminals during the same time. And most of them are in the UK, France and other major countries. That is, in general, only Ukraine now has more of these devices than the rest of the continent.

Accordingly, Ukraine, represented by its citizens, pays SpaceX more money for using Starlink than all Europeans together. It is difficult to say exactly how much. Fediienko points out that the standard Starlink package costs USD 105 per month, but Ukrainians can pay even a little more for it.

Thus, Ukrainians can pay up to USD 10 million per month to use Starlink. And mainly, this money is paid by the Ukrainian military, who are the main users of this service.

Starlink may disappear

At the same time, Fediienko said that it was quite possible that soon a significant part of Ukrainian Starlink users would not be able to use it, despite the availability of terminals and timely payment. The fact is that most of the equipment that Ukrainians purchased independently was purchased according to “gray” schemes.

These Starlinks were purchased in Poland and should be used on its territory. However, they work on the territory of Ukraine. And, allegedly, the company’s management wants to stop this practice, although there is no official statement on the SpaceX website. Just one of the resellers reported that from October 1, users would have to choose: switch to a much more expensive tariff, or stay without Internet at all.

Considering all this, Fediienko summarizes that it will be extremely hard for the Ukrainian military to work without Starlink, as they have done so far, despite the fact that we live in an era of rapid development of satellite Internet. After all, the platforms they use simply cannot work properly with devices in high geostationary orbits.

Therefore, we will have to continue to use only those devices that operate in low Earth orbit. And there are only two major players: Starlink and OneWeb. Moreover, the latter cannot yet provide its customers with the same opportunities as the main competitor.

According to

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