Elon Musk Announces Free Starlink Coverage For Ukraine Despite Service Losing Money

Ramish Zafar
Twitter Elon Musk

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In a sharp turn of events, SpaceX chief Mr. Elon Musk announced just moments back that his company will fund Starlink in Ukraine for the remainder of the war. Mr. Musk's announcement came after he became the center of controversy following a leaked letter from the Defense Department in which his company had asked for financial support for providing Starlink coverage to Ukraine. Reports from the war-torn country have suggested that Starlink has proven crucial in maintaining communications, simply due to its operating architecture that allows for mobility and high-speed internet at the same time.

Elon Musk Caves In To Pressure And Announces Starlink Coverage To Ukraine For Free

The change in opinion is the latest in the controversy the executive has found himself embroiled in after he took to his favorite social media platform Twitter and suggested a solution to the Ukraine conflict. His proposal, which involved conducting elections in regions held by Russia, did not sit well with users, and matters escalated as Mr. Musk was accused of siding with the Russians in Europe's bloodiest conflict since the second world war.

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Things took an even uglier turn when CNN published a letter leaked from the Pentagon in which SpaceX had asked the government agency to help it with bearing the costs of Internet coverage in Ukraine. It outlined that while governments had footed the bulk of the costs of shipping close to 25,000 user dishes to Ukraine, SpaceX was still funding most of the costs of providing coverage to the country.

The report was met with even more unfavorable reactions, and charity workers helping the Ukrainian military on the frontlines shared that they were unaware of any government support for Starlink. They went on to add that most of the soldiers that they had come across had bought the user dishes themselves, and the monthly fees were being paid out of pocket.

Starlink download and upload data for Ukraine from March to May 2022. Image: Elon Musk/Twitter

Amidst all this, the SpaceX head took to Twitter just moments back to announce that his company will continue to provide Starlink services for free in Ukraine, despite other companies getting support from the Pentagon.

According to him:

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

02:06 PM · Oct 15, 2022 ·Twitter for iPhone

In his earlier tweets, Musk has also shared that SpaceX is not only bearing the costs of providing coverage to the Ukrainians out of its own pocket but that the company has also dedicated significant resources to block Russian attempts at sabotaging the services. The Starlink dishes, which were shipped to Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion, were shipped to the country after a Russian cyberattack took out the internet service offered by its rival Viasat.

Earlier in the day, Musk also shared that the amount that his company is asking from the Pentagon is less than the cost of a single Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite. He added that while the GPS signal is easy to jam, Starlink has proven to be far more resilient.

Countering the Russian attacks is also hampering Starlink's development progress according to Musk, as his company has had to close off the platform to prevent any disruptions. The service has received praise for its performance in Ukraine from all quarters, and its performance also led to the Ukrainian military contacting SpaceX directly to provide it with more terminals.

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