Elon Musk actually promised to cover the cost of using Starlink in Ukraine. Antennas have now failed due to payment problems.
A few days ago, around 1,300 Starlink antennas used by the Ukrainian military failed because the country did not pay for them. This is reported by the US news channel CNN, citing anonymous sources. Only a short time before, Elon Musk had promised to take over the costs “indefinitely”.
The ensuing outage further increased concerns about the reliability of satellite internet in Ukraine. He was a “big problem” for the armed forces of Ukraine, and they had previously tried to minimize the consequences. A batch of Starlink antennas that Ukraine bought from a British company for military use in March was affected.
For the operation of the affected antennas, the provider Starlink requires 2,500 US dollars per month, writes CNN. That is significantly more than the monthly costs for private customers. Shortly before the failure, Ukraine had asked Great Britain to take over the monthly costs of 3.25 million euros. However, it was agreed that there was military aid that had higher priority, such as the training of Ukrainian units in Great Britain. How many Starlink antennas the Ukrainian army uses in defense against the Russian war of aggression is unknown, but the failure would account for a significant proportion.
The outage now reported came at the end of October just a few days after a dispute, some of which was public, about the payment of the service in Ukraine. SpaceX activated the satellite internet there in the spring, a few days after the start of the Russian war of aggression, and donated thousands of antennas. Many are paid for privately or with donations, but not all. In some cases, more than 150,000 people were able to access the Internet. The technology serves as a central means of communication for the Ukrainian military at the front. From autumn there were reports of failures and SpaceX boss Elon Musk had fueled speculation that Starlink would be specifically restricted there. On Twitter, he advocated territorial concessions from Ukraine to end the war.
Concerns about a change of heart at Musk
After SpaceX hinted that the cost of deploying to Ukraine might no longer be should enable, there was some controversy leading up to Musk’s about-face. On October 15, US billionaire Musk assured that the costs would be covered “indefinitely”. He ruled out a shutdown and received praise for it from the Ukrainian government.
Contrary to what Musk claims, the financing is still being negotiated, writes CNN. A lot of trusts was lost there. Not only in the USA do they want to put the operation on a legally secure footing so that Ukraine is no longer dependent on one man: “Everyone in the house knows that we will pay for it,” CNN quotes a Pentagon employee now, “because we worried he’ll change his mind”. The outage at the end of October only added to those concerns.