According to the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, the crucial question of how to pay for the Ukrainian Starlink satellite Internet has been resolved, at least temporarily. Several European Union countries seem to have decided that it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the country online as the Russian invasion continues.
In October, it emerged that apart from initial funding to acquire Starlink terminals in Ukraine, there was no real arrangement to pay SpaceX for the service it provided. At retail value, the approximately 22,000 terminals shipped to Ukraine would cost tens of millions of dollars, although this is only an estimate of the actual cost and number of active terminals.
SpaceX sought funding from the US military but ultimately decided to proceed without it, although it was characterized as a charitable act at the time, perhaps as negotiations with other stakeholders began to bear fruit.
In a conversation with Bloomberg, Fedorov (who is also the deputy prime minister) explained that “now all financial issues have been resolved.”
He declined to be more specific, saying only that several EU countries have pledged support at least through the spring. As winter approaches and infrastructure is already strained, funding for decentralized internet access is one more thing the war-torn country will have to worry about.
In fact, there is a new arrangement for sending more than 10,000 terminals. “We have received another cargo that will be used to stabilize the link in critical situations,” said Fedorov. “There is no alternative to satellite connections.”
SpaceX has recently expanded into the world of defense contractors with Starshield, but that’s more about US government contracts. Starlink terminals in Ukraine appear to be on the professional and consumer side of the business.