Friday, January 28, 2011

In the early hours, the government cracked down on Internet providers, snapping all international access on the worldwide web, going far beyond impairing Facebook and Twitter, the social media networks that have been used by the young to organize protests. Renesys, an American company that analyses Internet data traffic, said the shutdown was the biggest since the Internet's inception.

The nation's four main Internet providers all went dark, and cell phone service was suspended in some areas. But the drastic move did not stop demonstrators, and it could backfire by fueling anger and chaos in the streets of Cairo and beyond. Starting at 10:12 p.m. local time on Thursday night, Telecom Egypt went dark, followed by the four remaining main carriers over the next 13 minutes, by 10:25 p.m., the country no longer existed on the Internet.

While Egypt severed all of its cellphone and Internet connections, fixed lines were working, one of the few means, beyond satellite phone and ham radio, to reach the country. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.

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