As many as 150,000 Ukrainians connect to the internet on a daily basis, thanks to the Starlink internet services being provided by SpaceX, CNBC reported. The number is based on rough data, which Ukraine's Digital Minister shared in a tweet.
Rough data on Starlink's usage: around 150K active users per day. This is crucial support for Ukraine's infrastructure and restoring the destroyed territories. Ukraine will stay connected no matter what. pic.twitter.com/XWjyxPQJyX— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) May 2, 2022
Fedorov had reached out to Elon Musk over Twitter soon after the Russian aggression began, seeking his help to begin satellite internet services in the region. It took Musk and SpaceX about 10 hours to respond and activate the internet services in the region, where it hadn't launched its commercial operations yet.
How Ukraine got its Starlink terminals
While SpaceX had the satellites in place to offer the service, only a limited number of people had purchased the necessary on-ground hardware (dish terminals) needed to connect with these satellites. With internet cables being the target of attacks, Ukraine was in dire need of Starlink terminals, and help poured in from all sides.
Throughout the conflict, the terminals have not only helped Ukrainians stay connected to the world but also aided patients in hospitals to receive continued care. According to a recent NBC News report, more than 10,000 Starlink terminals are now operational in Ukraine. Out of these, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) procured 1,333 terminals, while 5,000 terminals were supplied by various stakeholders, the agency told CNBC.
A terminal serving scores of customers
According to SpaceX's recent report, its Starlink service has about 250,000 subscribers globally, including individual and enterprise customers. So, the numbers coming out of Ukraine might give the impression that most users of the service are based in Ukraine alone. Considering that Starlink's services in Ukraine are currently free, doubts could surface about the service's coverage and its long-term economic viability.
However, it is important to note that the daily active user count is different from the subscriber number. A Starlink dish terminal is also supplied with a wireless router that allows multiple users to connect to the internet. Starlink users suggest that as many as 128 devices can link to each router. While that might not really be happening in Ukraine, it gives us a fair idea of how 150,000 users are connecting every day to the internet using Starlink's satellite internet services.