An engineer in Ukraine successfully set up his Starlink for emergencies
Oleg Kutkov, an engineer working in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, has set up his Starlink connection to serve as an emergency backup for internet services, in case broadband lines are cut-off during the Russian invasion, Business Insider reported.
Following the Russian advance, the Ukrainian government had requested SpaceX to activate satellite internet in the region. According to Business Insider, Starlink kits consisting of a terminal and a router were available in the country since December, which Kutkov had purchased for personal use back then.
Commercial services began within hours after the Ukrainian government's request, Kutkov told Business Insider. Kutkov also added that he first faced issues with the connection as his account was registered in the U.S. but the support team at SpaceX helped him solve the issue.
He also posted a picture on Twitter confirming the same.
Success!— Oleg Kutkov (@olegkutkov) February 28, 2022
SpaceX Starlink is working in Kyiv, Ukraine!
The Dishy was placed just outside my window, even without adjustments.
Thanks, @SpaceX team, for your support :)
cc @FedorovMykhailo pic.twitter.com/oX09RL5wBh
How satellite internet works
SpaceX is among many other companies that are working to deliver satellite-based internet connections. HughesNet and Viasat are two other prominent providers in the U.S. while Amazon also intends to offer this service through its Project Kuiper.
Apart from the router in your house that connects devices to the internet and the terminal outside the house, the satellite internet service also includes a constellation of geostationary satellites that receive and transmit signals miles above in the sky.
Requests sent by users through actions like clicking a link or playing a video on YouTube are received by the satellites and then sent to a Network Operations Center (NOC) that uses ground-based internet to process the request and sends the data back to the satellite which then relays it back to the dish terminal outside the house. The entire process happens within fractions of seconds and services like Starlink are working to further reduce the time it takes to get this done.
Last month, the SpaceX team jumped in to help volcano-hit Tonga reconnect with the world, while it has now sent additional Starlink terminals to Ukraine to help the country remain connected, as Russian troops continue to advance. Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted about the arrival of more Starlink terminals in the country.
Risks from satellite internet
John Scott-Railton, a Senior Researcher at Citizen Lab with expertise in connectivity in conflicts, however, warned that even though satellite internet seems like a savior in early conflict, it quickly introduces "deadly vulnerabilities."
12/ Every tech should be considered & evaluated.— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) February 27, 2022
But if well-meaning people rush an untested-in-war new tech into an active conflict zone like #Ukraine & promote it as "safer"...
They may get people killed.
Russia has big electronic ears.
In a Twitter thread, Scott-Railton, pointed to the use of VSATs, a similar technology to Starlink, that has been used to provide broadband internet in other conflict-ridden areas like Syria and Libya. He says that Russia has battle-tested experience of spotting, geolocating, and then targetting signals emanating from these devices.