As Iranian President Hasan Rouhani addressed the United Nations for the first time this week, people all over the world took to the Internet to hear and discuss his message, many for the first time. They saw a statesman exercising what Ayatollah Khamenei has called “heroic flexibility” — the will to consider all possibilities for […]
It is a fact of life of global Internet infrastructure that wherever shipping routes and cable routes overlap, submarine cable breaks are going to happen. In just the past two weeks, we’ve seen four major cable breaks: three at the same time in the Red Sea on Feb 17th, and a fourth right offshore near Mombasa, Kenya on Feb 25th.
East Africa has been hit hard by these breaks, but in fact, it’s easy to lose sight of how far Internet connectivity in this region has come in a few short years. It’s stunning to see how much of the Internet infrastructure in Kenya and Uganda is actually still up and running, although congested. East African ISPs have learned a tremendous amount in a short time about designing their networks for resilience and diversity, and that’s evident in the data pertaining to these cable breaks.
The graphic on the right illustrates the impact of the most recent TEAMS cable cut. Our data peg the time of the cut at 09:13 UTC on February 25, 2012, as providers throughout the region see sudden, massive shifts in their international Internet connectivity. Kenya normally has about 550 routed networks, and by this measure, over 60% of the country’s Internet became unreachable at this point. Uganda normally has about 180 routed networks, and experienced a similar degree of impairment. Rwanda and Tanzania do not appear to have been affected by this cable cut, which is not surprising, since TEAMS is a point-to-point cable connecting Kenya to the United Arab Emirates (see Telegeography’s online Submarine Cable Map).
Hurricane Irene knocked out power to millions of homes and businesses as it travelled up the US East Coast this weekend. Even as the winds subsided, torrential rains triggered savage flooding throughout Eastern New York state and Vermont, tearing up roads and exposing the telecommunications infrastructure to further risks. The storm’s impacts were clearly visible in the Internet’s global routing table, as tens of thousands of networks were cut off from the rest of the world.
Here are a couple screenshots from our Internet Health Portal, which we provide to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). During an emergency like Hurricane Irene, this tool provides the US-CERT with critical information about the availability of Internet services across America. Working from lists of impacted customers in each state and county, and lists of correlated outage events, we can supply a lot of useful information about the problems being experienced by enterprises in the affected area. That information can be passed along to state and local governments to aid in prioritization of disaster relief.
Libya’s nationwide Internet blackout is entering its second full day. From a technical standpoint, it’s clear that this is a very different strategy than the one used by Egypt in the last days of the Mubarak regime. The ultimate outcome is probably going to be the same. Let’s take a few minutes to compare the two, and think about the implications for future Internet engagements in the Jasmine Revolution.
Early reports from Algeria tonight suggested that another Internet takedown may be underway, similar to the one that affected Egypt. So far, however, we don’t see confirming evidence for it. Algerian providers get their international connectivity via submarine cables from Europe, with diverse transit from a long list of providers: Level3, Cogent, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, […]
As of approximately 20:46 UTC, four hours after this blog was first published, Noor started disappearing from the Internet. They are completely unavailable at present as shown below
As we observed last week, Egypt took the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the Internet. The government didn’t simply block Twitter and Facebook (an increasingly common tactic of regimes under fire), but rather they apparently ordered most major Egyptian providers to cease service via their international providers, effectively removing Egyptian IP space from the global Internet and cutting off essentially all access to the outside world via this medium. The only way out now would be via traditional phone calls, assuming they left that system up, or via satellite. We thought the Internet ban would be temporary, but much to our surprise, the situation has not changed. One of the few Egyptian providers reachable today, four days after the start of the crisis, is The Noor Group. In this blog, we’ll take a quick look at them and some of the businesses they serve.
Thanks to all for great comments and questions. Please see below for latest updates on the ongoing Egyptian Internet blackout, including some trace-based analysis and a few words about neighboring countries. After this morning we’ll be closing this post out, and looking for the restoration. Hopefully sooner than later. –jim
Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.
This has been an exciting month for those of us who study the Internet’s infrastructure and think about ways to keep it running (and growing). Did I say exciting? Maybe “exhausting” would be more accurate. From China, to Iran, to the US Congress, everyone seems to be wondering how best to control the Internet and bring it in line with local law.
And then came the latest iteration of the WikiLeaks drama.
We’ve received enough interest about our previous notes on Iranian Internet connectivity that I wanted to give a brief update, and some reflections.
Seventy-five years ago today, on May 29th, 1934, Egyptian private radio stations fell silent, as the government shut them down in favor of a state monopoly on broadcast communication. Egyptian radio “hackers” (as we would style them today) had, over the course of about fifteen years, developed a burgeoning network of unofficial radio stations. They offered listeners an unfiltered, continuous mix of news, gossip, and live entertainment from low-powered transmitters located in private houses and businesses throughout Cairo.
It couldn’t last. After two days of official radio silence, on May 31st, official state-sponsored radio stations (run by the Marconi company under special contract) began transmitting a clean slate of government-sanctioned programming, and the brief era of grass-roots Egyptian radio was over.