Connecting Ukrainian refugees

Viasat provides a vital link for those displaced by the war living in Slovakia

Woman and child at train station in Slovakia

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 500,000 refugees — mostly women and children — have come to Slovakia. Viasat has been helping by standing up Wi-Fi hotspots to enable communications for them.

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Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, more than 500,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Slovakia.

In this unfortunate and chaotic situation, Viasat is there to help them stay connected to friends and family, and to access critical information.

Viasat and the Košice Region of Slovakia partnered to bring free high-speed internet to Ukrainian refugees taking shelter there. Displaced Ukrainians can access Viasat’s satellite-enabled internet, which has been installed at sites across the area where refugees have the greatest need for connectivity.

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A sign outside a refugee center in Slovakia points to a Viasat-sponsored Wi-Fi hotspot

Viasat currently has five active sites. The free internet sites will remain active as long as they are needed.

Most of the refugees using the free service are women with children, and some elderly Ukrainians. They are staying in gymnasiums and schools temporarily converted into shelters.

Košice Region President Rastislav Trnka said the service is a welcome addition to their efforts.

“Since the beginning of this conflict, we have been helping people driven from their homes by operating humanitarian warehouses, offering information points at borders and stations, providing free transport and accommodations in emergency facilities for war refugees, and coordinating volunteers,” he said. “So far, we have provided accommodations across emergency facilities to more than 5,500 residents of Ukraine.

“We welcome Viasat’s high-speed satellite internet, which allows us to provide an opportunity for refugees to immediately access critical information and communications.”

Viasat’s satellite internet is ideal for meeting the refugees’ temporary needs. The service allows users to connect devices to the internet at a centralized location, using an easy-to-install hotspot.

“By partnering with the Košice region, we can provide a much-needed resource to Ukrainians during this incredible time of need,” said Evan Dixon, president of Global Fixed Broadband at Viasat. “Our satellite-based internet service enables us to connect tens of thousands of refugees at no cost to them so they can access high-speed internet to remain connected to family and friends and follow current events.”

Because satellite internet requires relatively little equipment and infrastructure to set up, Viasat has a strong tradition of helping people connect in the wake of disasters. In 2019, it worked with a Brazilian telecommunications company to provide connectivity at the site of a catastrophic dam collapse. It’s been among the first on scene at multiple hurricanes, wildfires and even a Hawaiian volcano, bringing much-needed internet to first responders as well as disaster evacuees.

Jane Reuter was a Colorado journalist for 20 years before transitioning to Viasat as a corporate communications writer. A mother of one, she lives in Golden, CO and is an outdoor enthusiast.