1,300 SpaceX Starlink terminals in Ukraine recently went offline due to funding issues

An anonymous source says SpaceX was charging the Ukrainian government a $2,500 monthly fee for each terminal.
Chris Young
Boxes with equipment.
Boxes with equipment.

Oleksil Kononenko/iStock 

Since the start of Russia's invasion in late February this year, many civilians and troops in Ukraine have relied on SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet.

Early reports suggested SpaceX has successfully thwarted many Russian hacking attempts to bring the service down. Now though, up to 1,300 Starlink terminals went dark two weeks ago due to unpaid bills, according to a report by CNN.

1,300 Starlink terminals down in Ukraine

Expert Russian hackers may not have been able to take Starlink down, but it seems a lack of funding has led to a large number of Ukraine's Starlink terminals going offline. According to the CNN report, an anonymous source said 1,300 terminals were disconnected due to "a lack of funding." The report added that the terminals were purchased from a British company in March.

Interestingly, the same source claims SpaceX was charging the Ukrainian government a $2,500 monthly fee for each of those terminals. That's considerably more than the $110 per month SpaceX charges standard Starlink users and it adds up to a total monthly bill of $3.25 million.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently claimed that providing Starlink coverage over Ukraine was costing the private space firm $20 million every month, due in part "to unpaid service & costs related to enhanced security measures for cyberwar defense."

In September, SpaceX asked the U.S. military to start paying for the cost of Starlink coverage in Ukraine.

The U.S. government initially declined, leading to Musk taking to Twitter to write, "the hell with it... Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we'll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free."

Though SpaceX is currently still footing the bill, CNN has reported that talks are ongoing and SpaceX may soon receive funding from the Pentagon.

Ukraine asked the UK to pay for Starlink

Ukraine's defense department reportedly knew they would run out of funding for Starlink and asked the British military to foot the bill. Ultimately, the British government decided it wanted to spend its Ukraine funding on other operations.

As per the CNN report, a British official claimed that after discussions between the Ukrainian and British defense ministries, "it was agreed there were higher priority military capabilities." One example of British aid has come in the form of the UK government flying thousands of Ukrainian troops to Britain for training before shipping them back to the frontlines.

The fact that 1,300 Starlink terminals have gone dark is reflective of the complex logistical operation on the ground in Ukraine and the fact that several organizations and entities are footing the bill for the ongoing expenses in wartorn Ukraine.

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