If you think that having to deal with Spectrum or Comcast is a pain in the neck, just ponder how much worse it will be to deal with Russia’s Spacelink competitor and sole state-approved satellite internet provider, Sphere.
Russian web denizens may now face fines if they use any satellite internet constellation that the state deems a threat to national security, including OneWeb and Space X’s Starlink, Ars Technica reports.
The fines that the Russian state is considering range from ₽ 10,000 to ₽ 30,000 RUB, or about $130 to $390 USD, for regular users. They can go as high as ₽ 1,000,000 RUB, or just over $13,000 USD, for legal entities.
The bit about legal entities is obvious. But the fines proposed against users are unfortunate, given that Starlink’s entire shtick was to provide global internet coverage and an alternative to internet service providers (ISP) that could not service everyone — or as so often happens, are the sole ISP for an area and thus free to enact unfair business practices.
But because the Russian space program has transferred its rivalry from NASA to SpaceX, anything the company does is seen as a threat and a thinly veiled attempt to advance American technological superiority.
Russia’s space chief and amateur Bond villain, Dmitry Rogozin, said that Starlink is “a rather predatory, clever, powerful, high-technology policy of the USA, which uses Shock and Awe in order to advance, before all, their military interests,” per the Ars report.
So the Russian state proposed its own satellite internet constellation to rival Western services. Well, not to rival so much as to replace it as the single constellation service available to Russian users, thereby becoming exactly the bully telecom Starlink is supposed to replace. Way to go, Roscosmos!
It’s an ironic twist, but very much intentional, because one of the (main) reasons Starlink threatens the Russian state is that it provides no way to monitor users on the service. But Sphere is not a certainty because the cost of launching the Soyuz-flavored Starlink is prohibitive. And that could be the silver lining in the whole thing.
What’s a frosty relationship between the Russian space program and the U.S. Defense Department-subsidized Space X when we can have access to subreddits like this one and this other freely for years to come?