Although Elon Musk's intentions with Starlink in Ukraine are good, we must be realistic about the possible impact of this service
Photo: Elon Musk, TW-FedorovMykhailo
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Manuel Londoño
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is fought on both the information and war fronts. So much so that constant drops have been reported in the Internet service providers of this country since February 23, particularly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The attacks on these Internet service providers are not only intended to sow more chaos among the population, but also to hinder internal communications in Ukraine.
It is for this reason that the Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, asked Elon Musk for Starlink service terminals in order to access the Internet. The terminals arrived on February 28, but how effective will this measure be?
Starlink isn't perfect, but it's just what Ukraine needs
Starlink is a satellite internet service that can bring download speeds of 150 Mbps anywhere in the world. In this sense, it is the fastest in the world, only competing with the Viasat Internet service, which has a download speed of 12-100 Mbps.
Unlike normal Internet, which uses cables, Starlink works by sending radio signals through space to a network of satellites. This makes it ideal for this situation, as it cannot be targeted by Russian bombardment like traditional internet service providers.
To get rid of this new Internet service, the Russians would have to find and destroy the Internet terminals that connect to Starlink or bring down the Tesla mogul's satellite network. The first is a potential problem, since if Starlink's internet terminals become of interest to Russia, they could launch an attack against the places that have them. There is also the possibility that they interfere with the very radio signals that make the service possible in the first place.
It is essential to understand that Starlink is not a perfect replacement for a traditional Internet provider. Moreover, it is more likely that the stations in Ukraine will be used by the government and the military, rather than by the general population or journalists. There is also concern that a large increase in users will affect the speed of the network, which currently only has 145,000 users. To make a comparison, the Ukrainian army alone has an active personnel of more than 245,000 people.
Despite this, Starlink is one of the biggest hits in Elon Musk's recent history. It has managed to provide an essential service that, although it does not cover the entire Ukrainian population, will be of great help to the sectors it can support. Not to mention, this week it also announced that it would provide Tesla Supercharger service in conflict-affected areas for free in invasion-affected parts, helping civilians escape conflict.
Without a doubt, it has been a home-run for Elon Musk, who has considerably raised his image worldwide.