With the invasion of Russian forces in neighboring Ukraine, free and uncensored access to the Internet returned to the short list of “privileges” associated with the very notion of freedom. Launched with the promise of democratizing free and unrestricted access to the Internet, Starlink, the most expansive satellite internet network of the moment, announces the expansion of its services in Ukraine, leaving only the necessary hardware to reach future beneficiaries.
Although it is based on hundreds of satellites, the way the Starlink network was designed does not allow the simple activation of the service, in any location on Earth where the signal can be received. Instead, in order for the service to work according to the data sheet, a generous number of satellites are needed to cross the sky permanently, ensuring direct visibility to at least one connection node, at any time of the day. According to the initial vision, 30,000 micro-satellites would be needed to achieve and support broadband speeds, the current network of about 2,000 satellites offering only partial coverage of the service.
Fortunately, even the current level of Starlink coverage is sufficient to allow internet connection from almost anywhere in the world, the main drawback being the possibility of intermittent disconnection as the antenna searches for suitable connection nodes.
The good news for the people of Ukraine is that the current internet access infrastructure is not under the umbrella of Russia’s censorship apparatus, risking only local and temporary service disruptions. The bad news is that the equipment needed to connect to the Starlink network is made in the United States and is difficult for potential beneficiaries to reach. Furthermore, the confessed experiences from other regions of the world show that the installation of these antennas in a visible place can in itself be a proof of courage, the possible daredevils risking surprise visits at any time to “check” the TV signal.