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Need for EU-backed satellite internet highlighted by Ukraine crisis

The Ukraine crisis highlights the need for a swift rollout of a broadband Internet by satellite funded by the European Union, the EU’s industry chief Thierry Breton said on Wednesday.

The EU had already set out plans for a 6 billion euro ($6.6 billion) satellite communications program just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. The plan aims to reduce the bloc’s dependence on foreign companies.

“It’s essential to have access to back up (networks),” Breton said at a news conference following a meeting with EU telecommunications ministers.

“We saw it with what happened in Ukraine… (They had) to have a private company come in immediately to provide complementary services,” he said, with reference to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

On Saturday, Musk said SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service was activated in Ukraine and SpaceX was sending more terminals to the country, responding to a tweet by a Ukraine government official who asked Musk to provide it with Starlink stations.

“This, for us, is obviously something that is not acceptable. We must really be sovereign over our infrastructures, including these.”

Breton said the aim was to start building a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, with launches slated from 2024. These would offer broadband Internet over the European and African continents, he said.

The companies active in this area include SpaceX, Amazon’s Kuiper Systems and British satellite company OneWeb. China also has its own constellation project.

The EU proposal also aims to help to counter cyber and electromagnetic threats and improve the resilience of EU telecommunication infrastructures. Financial Post

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