Telecom operators and suppliers respond to war in Ukraine

Telecom operators and suppliers respond to war in Ukraine

The ongoing war in Ukraine has, inevitably, had a variety of impacts on the telecoms business. Perhaps the most high-profile news so far has been Ericsson’s decision to suspend deliveries to Russia.

According to an internal memo from CEO Borje Ekholm, seen by Reuters, the company wants to assess the potential impact of sanctions on its business there.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has received Starlink satellite internet terminals donated by American aerospace manufacturer, SpaceX. However, as they are highly visible terminals that look like home satellite television dishes an internet security researcher has warned these could become Russian targets.

In addition more than a dozen telecoms providers on both sides of the Atlantic are reportedly either providing free international calls to Ukraine or are scrapping roaming charges with the country.

Other operator offers, reported by the European telecoms lobbying group ETNO, include giving SIM cards to refugees in neighbouring countries, free Wi-Fi in refugee camps, activating the 'SMS donation' function to help organisations aiding refugees and including Ukrainian channels in IPTV packages for free.

A rather surreal note was added to this activity when Reuters reported that Google and Meta were among foreign social media companies with more than 500,000 daily users that had not complied with Russian legislation to open local offices – and now face penalties or even outright bans.

A few companies had fully complied, including, apparently, Apple, Spotify, and Rakuten's messaging app Viber. However, given the present situation and the wider Russian campaign for internet control, it’s hard to see why any company would want to invest in a local office right now.

That said, social media demand certainly exists in Russia. Estimates are that Russia had nearly 51 million users on Instagram and 7.5 million on Facebook by November. In fact demand for virtual private networking (VPN) apps, which can help with circumventing internet restrictions, has reportedly surged in Russia lately.