It’s now particularly costly for Ukrainians to use SpaceX’s Starllink if they want to stay online during the Russian invasion. The Financial Timesreports that the price of a Starlink satellite terminal has almost doubled in Ukraine, jumping from the equivalent of $385 to about $700. The monthly rate isn’t as expensive as it once was (as high as $100), but it’s climbing from $60 to $75.
It’s not known if prices have also jumped for the Ukrainian government, which obtains Starlink from a variety of sources that include SpaceX itself, foreign governments and even crowdsourcing. Individual prices have climbed in Poland, where some Ukrainians get their Starlink equipment delivered to avoid complications with local deliveries.
The hikes come as Ukraine’s cellular networks are buckling under the strain of Russian attacks on the country’s electrical grid. In some cases, Starlink might be the only way for locals to reach the internet. Some residents in recently liberated areas also lean on the technology while phone carriers are busy restoring service. Higher prices risk putting internet access out of reach, and may force donors to pay more to supply as many terminals as they did before.
We’ve asked SpaceX for comment. The company has complained about its own costs for supplying Starlink access in Ukraine. While it was quick to switch on connectivity after the Russian assault began in February, it has partly relied on US government funding to supply terminals and maintained in September that it couldn’t continue offering service without further aid. After that complaint became public, however, Elon Musk said SpaceX would keep paying for Ukraine even though it supposedly meant losing money.