Elon Musk said on Saturday his company SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband service had been activated in Ukraine, after the country's Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov pleaded with him to provide satellite-based communications to help resist Russia’s invasion.
"Starlink service is now active in Ukraine," Musk tweeted, adding "more terminals en route."
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Musk responded around 10 hours after Fedorov tweeted to him: "While you try to colonize Mars -- Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space -- Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations."
He also called on the billionaire "to address sane Russians to stand" against their government's invasion.
@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 26, 2022
Ukraine's official Twitter handle and Fedorov later thanked Elon Musk and the country's ambassador to USA Oksana Markarova for swift decisions that allowed them activate Starlink in Ukraine.
Ukraine has seen a "series of significant disruptions to internet service" since Russia launched military operations in the country on Thursday, confirmed Network data from NetBlocks.
Starlink operates a constellation of more than 2,000 satellites that aim to provide internet access across the planet.
The internet has been lauding Musk's decision to help Ukraine.
American businessman Jeremy Padawer shared an explanation for Musk's tweet: "Ukraine people have access to the fastest satellite internet system ever created. Russia can not disable the Ukrainian internet access fully without cyber attacking foreign data centers."
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding from the US commented that Starlink satellite internet activated for Ukraine circumvents Putin’s attempts to cut off the besieged country's internet access to the world. "Democracy dies in darkness—unless you circumvent Putin. Thank you, Elon Musk," Feigl-Ding tweeted.
Read more: Russia-Ukraine News Live Updates February 27: Russia has warned Ukraine its offensive will not stop for potential talks, says Kremlin
Starlink internet accounts for 1.45 lakh users in 25 countries. According to Musk, the laser satellite links ensure smooth operation and reliable internet coverage. It also enables the satellites to operate without sending data back to a ground station. Instead, the data is beamed between the satellites using laser links, enabling faster transfer speeds.
Starlink is one of the many companies launching small satellites to provide broadband internet services, especially to areas where the terrestrial network is hard to set up.
It is, however, unclear how Ukranians will access Starlink without the required equipment.
Elon Musk's Starlink charges $99 per month for a plan with advertised speeds up to 150 Mbps. Charges for the equipment which includes a satellite dish and a router, amounts to $500.
For more bandwidth, one has to get the company's premium plan which costs $500 per month and this is excluding $2,500 for equipment.