the limits of the help offered by Elon Musk

  • 52

Most of the Ukraine war fronts are pretty confusing. But there is one in which those of Volodymyr Zelensky are winning without any doubt: the social networks and public relations. The Ukrainian president himself has made his accounts Twitter and Instagram their favorite communication channels to ask for international help and make official announcements, and now their Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, has gotten Elon Musk to help them thanks to a tweet.

Call to Musk. Fedorov asked Musk to activate the satellite internet in Ukraine last Saturday to deal with possible cuts due to the bombing and the Russian advance. A request to which the technology guru agreed a few hours later and announced through his Twitter account.

More political than useful. Quite a triumph for the Ukrainian cause, without a doubt, especially in the field of propaganda: one of the biggest technology tycoons in the world has clearly and unequivocally positioned himself on the side of Ukraine and has made one of his most pointers. But, will the activation of the Starlink satellite internet on Ukrainian soil really be useful for Zelensky? Well, it will depend on the number of signal reception kits that Musk’s company can send them.

The kit is the key. As we already explained in Xataka, in order to receive a satellite internet signal, the user needs to install a specific Starlink kit that consists of a receiving antenna, which receives the signal and must be connected to the electrical current, and a WiFi router, that signal is sent to give access to the internet. The system only works with Musk’s own company pack, so third-party components cannot be used to establish the connections. Also, all equipment is configured for specific geographies, so they are not interchangeable unless reconfigured.

In this way, Starlink will only be able to offer satellite internet to Ukraine if it already has kits configured for that area on the ground, or has the logistical capacity to send more from abroad, something always complicated in a region at war. Minister Fedorov shared a tweet this Monday with a photograph in which dozens of boxes of these packs could be seen in a military truck, but he did not say anything other than that the material in the photo had arrived, so it is not known how many pieces of equipment they have in these moments the Ukrainian forces to take advantage of the service of Elon Musk.

The antennae are very exposed. Another problem facing satellite internet in Ukraine is the high exposure of its antennas to any explosion or sabotage. Starlink specifies on its website that in order to receive the signal correctly, these devices must be placed in elevated areas free of obstacles, such as the top of a tree or a utility pole. That is, in plain sight and without protection, which can make them easily located and destroyed by the Russians.

The Ukraine conflict is going to claim two unexpected victims: fertilizers and wheat

The power, a mystery. Likewise, neither the Government of Ukraine nor Starlink have given the slightest information about the power that the service will have on Ukrainian soil, or the number of satellites that they will dedicate. Therefore, we do not know if they are really prepared to give a wide coverage to the regions that remain in the hands of the defenders.

A great help, if it works. The difficulties for Starlink to work in the middle of a war are, as we see, high. However, if it is really implemented well and widely, there is no doubt that it will be a great help to Ukrainians, both civilian and military. And it is that the country’s telcos have experienced significant drops in their connectivity as the conflict intensified, and the service of the country’s main operator, GigaTrans, has fallen below 20% at some times last weekend, depending on the network monitoring platform netblocks.

Musk, on the edge of today. Whether it works better or worse, what is clear is that Ukraine has achieved a new victory on the public relations front. It is also clear, once again, Musk’s ability to take advantage of the news for his own benefit and give visibility to his brand worldwide with just a tweet, even in a scenario as sensitive and complex as a war.

Most of the Ukraine war fronts are pretty confusing. But there is one in which those of Volodymyr Zelensky are…

Most of the Ukraine war fronts are pretty confusing. But there is one in which those of Volodymyr Zelensky are…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.