Starlink prices in Ukraine nearly double as mobile networks falter

List prices for Starlink communications devices have nearly doubled in Ukraine as mobile networks began to fail under Russia’s assault on the country’s power grid and increased demand for the satellite communications device made by SpaceX.

Starlink terminals, manufactured by Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, will increase in price to $700 for new Ukrainian consumers, according to the company’s website. That’s up from about $385 earlier this year, screenshots of previous price data shared by users in the country show.

The cost to the consumer of a monthly Starlink subscription has fluctuated recently, dropping from around $100 to $60 on Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24 to “reflect local market conditions”, and will now rise to $75.

Prices also shot up in neighboring Poland, where many Ukrainians source from Starlink to avoid problems with domestic mail delivery, but remained the same in Slovakia and most other European countries.

Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The small, portable devices, which connect to satellites via an antenna the size of a book, have provided a crucial Internet connection for Ukrainian military and civilians in areas with little or no mobile phone networks or broadband coverage.

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It’s unclear whether prices have also changed for the Ukrainian government, which uses a mix of Starlink from various donors, including Musk’s SpaceX, the Polish government and NATO and collective-support allies.

In separate and ongoing negotiations between SpaceX and the US Department of Defense, SpaceX had asked Washington in October to pay $4,500 a month for each terminal destined for Ukraine, a person familiar with the situation said. A Pentagon spokesman said the department had been in contact with SpaceX about Starlink, but declined to elaborate on the discussions. He said the United States and Ukraine have identified satellite communications as a critical capability on the battlefield.

Musk activated connectivity for the satellite-based service inside Ukraine days after Russia launched its all-out invasion on February 24, responding on Twitter at the request of a Ukrainian minister.

Since then, the Ukrainian military has used Starlink extensively on the front lines, where months of fighting have made mobile networks unreliable, using large amounts of high-speed data to communicate with each other, with its bases, and to transmit drone footage high resolution.

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The Ukrainian government plans to buy thousands of new Starlinks, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Tuesday, and will make its imports duty-free and duty-free.

Civilians in areas removed from Russian control also often rely on Starlink as Ukrainian mobile network providers restore services.

In recent weeks, however, mobile networks in major cities such as Kiev have also failed as Russia tried to shut down Ukraine’s electricity distribution system.

Musk previously complained that the cost to SpaceX of delivering Starlink services to Ukraine could reach $100 million by the end of 2022, after the Financial Times reported that the Ukrainian military faced operational problems in October after discovering that the devices were not working. in areas recently liberated from Russian control.

SpaceX has also asked the U.S. government to shoulder the costs of providing the service to the Ukrainian government and military that could reach $400 million over a 12-month period, CNN reported in October. It’s unclear what additional costs Musk is referring to, as many users pay SpaceX directly for the purchase of the terminals and a monthly subscription fee.

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Dimko Zhluktenko, a software engineer who runs a charity to raise funds for soldiers, said he had bought up to 200 Starlinks in the past to send to the front lines, averaging about $500 for the price of each terminal, a deposit and the first. monthly subscription fee.

But his most recent fundraising effort, where he was raising $50,000 to buy 100 more, was derailed by the price hike.

“This only affects civilians at the moment – as a Ukrainian who does it for the military, I will pay as much as I need,” Zhluktenko said. He said he was using a Starlink because 4G in his neighborhood in Kiev was down on Tuesday afternoon.

Demand for Starlink has grown in recent weeks, local traders said, as a small gray market emerged of people paying up to $1,125 for immediate delivery of the devices, rather than waiting for them to be sourced from Poland or made by SpaceX the delivery


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