Russia is considering banning foreign satellite internets

In Russia, fines for access to the Internet via foreign providers could soon be threatened. A corresponding legislative proposal is being processed in the Parliament of the Russian Federation. It is justified with national security. Citizens could bypass Russian network surveillance through providers such as SpaceX and OneWeb.

The proposed law provides for fines of 10,000 to 30,000 rubles (around 111 to 335 euros) for private individuals. Companies even face fines from 500,000 to one million rubles (5575 to 11,150 euros). That goes out of one Report of the Russian edition of the magazine Popular Mechanics emerged. However, for the time being, this would only be relevant in selected border regions. The near-earth satellites require a ground station in sufficient proximity to the end user.

By using western infrastructure like SpaceX ‘Starlink or the recently launched satellites of the Indo-British OneWeb, Russian telecommunications providers could be bypassed. This means that users are beyond the control of Russian authorities. Such internet access contradicts the security regulations of Russia. The EU is also planning its own satellite internet, the use of which would also be punishable.

Dmitri Olegowitsch Rogozin, head of the Russian space organization Roskosmos, sees SpaceX and thus also the Starlink satellite internet as a major rival. Rogozin has criticized both NASA and the US Department of Defense for subsidizing SpaceX through government contracts. In return, SpaceX is also offering the USA rocket launches for less than other clients.

The draft law covers all foreign providers of satellite Internet. This also includes a Roskosmos customer: OneWeb uses Russian Soyuz rockets for the satellite launches. By the time commercial services commence at the end of the year, Roskosmos is expected to put more than 500 more OneWeb satellites into low earth orbit.

At the same time, Russia itself plans to introduce Internet access via satellite. However, the “Sfera” (sphere) constellation will only go into operation in a few years, possibly 2030. Many details are unknown. Sfera does not yet have an official budget.

According to Vice Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, ten billion rubles (111 million euros) have been released by 2022. The entire project could cost more than 16 billion euros. That would go beyond Russia’s budget. The Russian space agency currently receives just two billion euros a year.


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