Mystery Cable Activated in Cuba

Recent developments captured in a new blog here. (January 22, 2013)

In February 2011, the first submarine cable connecting the island nation of Cuba to the global internet (by way of Venezuela) landed on Siboney beach, Santiago de Cuba. In the two years since, the fate of the cable has been a mystery for Cuba observers. In the past week, our global monitoring system has picked up indications that this cable has finally been activated, although in a rather curious way, as we explain below. alba_cable.png

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A Baker’s Dozen, 2012 Edition

It is an annual tradition at Renesys to provide a year-end review of how the Internet providers at the top of our Market Intelligence global AS rankings fared over the previous year. The Internet remains a huge blind spot for many organizations that are buying Internet access. Market Intelligence provides the insight into who the leaders in the Internet transit marketplace are today and how they have changed over time. Back in 2008, we chose to look at the 13 providers that spent at least some time in the Top Ten that year,hence the name “Baker’s Dozen“. We looked at the top players again in 20092010 and 2011. A lot has changed over the years and for 2012, we welcome two new members to this exclusive club,PCCW and XO. As predicted last year, we also say good-bye to a declining AT&T and Savvis. While AT&T’s departure from the top of the global stage may be surprising to some, Savvis really hasn’t left as it is now part of CenturyLink, which also owns Qwest. And while Qwest did leave our top global rankings in 2011, they have now returned as part of a reinvigorated CenturyLink.

As you read this blog, keep in mind that all of the rankings we discuss are relative to IPv4, the Internet protocol carrying over 99% of all Internet traffic. (For example, compare total traffic to IPv6 traffic at the very busy Amsterdam Internet Exchange.) While we did also review IPv6 rankings last year, so little has changed that we’ll just refer you to that blog or, for more current information, our Market Intelligence product offering which covers both IPv4 and IPv6 in detail. So let’s dive in and highlight a few of the trends and changes we observed in 2012.

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Restoration in Syria

Renesys confirms a largely complete restoration of the Syrian Internet this morning, starting at 14:32:10 UTC (16:32 local time in Damascus).

Transit providers for the full prefix set do not appear to be significantly changed, with Internet service being provided post-restoration by Telecom Italia, Tata Communications, Turk Telecom, and PCCW.

Here’s a view of live Syrian prefix counts during the outage and restoration, from 29 November to 1 December: SY_reachable_Nov29-Dec01.png

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Could It Happen In Your Country?

{Updated; see below for lists of countries for easier reference, and a special offer for WCIT attendees. —jim}

How hard is it to disconnect a country from the Internet, really?

That’s the number one question we’ve received about our analysis of the Egyptian and Syrian Internet blackouts, and it’s a reasonable question. If the Internet is so famously resilient, designed to survive wars and calamities, how can it fail so abruptly and completely at the national level?

The key to the Internet’s survival is the Internet’s decentralization — and it’s not uniform across the world. In some countries, international access to data and telecommunications services is heavily regulated. There may be only one or two companies who hold official licenses to carry voice and Internet traffic to and from the outside world, and they are required by law to mediate access for everyone else.

Under those circumstances, it’s almost trivial for a government to issue an order that would take down the Internet. Make a few phone calls, or turn off power in a couple of central facilities, and you’ve (legally) disconnected the domestic Internet from the global Internet. Of course, this level of centralization also makes it much harder for the government to defend the nation’s Internet infrastructure against a determined opponent, who knows they can do a lot of damage by hitting just a few targets.

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Syrian Internet Is Off The Air

Click for latest update: 01:00 GMT Friday.

Starting at 10:26 UTC on Thursday, 29 November (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international Internet connectivity shut down. In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.
We are investigating the dynamics of the outage and will post updates as they become available.

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Hurricane Sandy: Global Impacts

In our recent posts about Hurricane Sandy, we analyzed the impacts of the super storm on Internet connectivity in the northeastern US.
However, in addition to knocking out power and Internet connectivity in a significant part of the New York metropolitan area, Sandy also had a surprising impact on the world’s Internet traffic, traffic that neither originated from nor was destined to areas affected by the storm.

From locations around the globe as varied as Chile, Sweden and India,
some Internet traffic was forced onto alternate paths to avoid failures at critical transit points in the NYC area.
We’ll take a look at some examples in what follows.

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Hurricane Sandy: Outage Animation

Renesys continues to analyze the impacts on Internet connectivity from Hurricane Sandy. Here’s another quick view of the impact on the routing table as Sandy came ashore Monday night. Each square represents the fate of a set of networks geolocated within a common tenth-degree square of the Earth’s surface — at these latitudes, that’s about […]

Hurricane Sandy: Initial Impact

Yesterday, Hurricane Sandy came ashore pummeling the east coast of the United States with high winds and torrential rains. The super storm caused major power and Internet outages in a region that is home to more than 60 million people. Unsurprisingly, the impacts on Internet connectivity have been severe. For instance, several major data centers in Manhattan lost power or were flooded.

Besides all the local impacts to the United States, New York City also happens to be a major hub of international telecommunications. As a result of outages there, we’ve observed Internet traffic shift away from the city as carriers scramble for alternative paths.

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Blast in Turkey Impacts Iran, Iraq

Last night, a pipeline carrying Iranian natural gas to Turkey was damaged by an explosion, halting gas flow, and perhaps surprisingly to some, disrupting Internet connectivity to northern Iran and Iraq. The Turkish government has accused the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) militant group, who have claimed responsibility for pipeline explosions in the past, of perpetrating the attack.

Internet communications lines are often installed along existing physical routes, such as highways, power lines, rail lines or oil and gas pipelines. Since someone has gone to the trouble of establishing a right of way and clearing a path over hundreds of kilometers, the telecommunications folks often take the opportunity to lay fiber optic cable along the route, if at all possible.

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PCCW Keeps Syria Connected

As the conflict in Syria continues unabated, we have observed an increase in the number of significant Internet outages in this war-torn country in the past six weeks. We first commented on the situation last year and again last month.

On Saturday, August 18th, the Syrian incumbent and sole domestic provider, Syria Telecommunications Establishment (STE, AS 29386), withdrew all 61 of its networks from the global routing table for roughly 17 minutes, starting at 07:59:00 UTC. Then again, on Sunday, August 19th, 20 of these networks were down several times between 04:00 UTC and 07:51:30 UTC. Sky News reporter, Tim Marshall, sent the tweet on the right from Syria at August 18th, 10:33 PST (or August 19th, 05:33 UTC).

SY_tweet_Aug2012.gif

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