How to overcome Internet shutdown in Egypt

  on January 31 2011 9:31 AM

The Egyptian government has abruptly shut down Internet, the main access point that can help people communicate with the outside world.

A nation of 80,000,000 was entirely disconnected from the rest of world instantly. The Egyptian government ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stop operating.

Vodafone Egypt had said in a statement earlier: “Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it.” Other major service providers include Link Egypt, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr.

The Internet disconnection in Egypt is too severe compared to disruptions in Tunisia and Iran where only some BGP routes where unplugged. The only ISP active presently is the Noor Group, which has access to about 8 percent of the market. The fact that Noor provides service to the Egyptian Stock Exchange could be the reason it is allowed to operate.

Perhaps the government’s effort to entirely shut down broadband and mobile connections may have deterred the masses from communicating with the rest of the countries. Internet was the major means through which citizens across Egypt could protest and share their thoughts. At first the government blocked the DNS (domain name servers) but Egyptians responded by using proxy servers which in turn led the government to block the broadband connections and then order the mobile providers to follow the steps.

But all is not lost as a few hackers have come across a solution to the nationwide shutdown. One means is to connect using dial-up, a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a dialed connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) via telephone lines. Dial-up Internet access remains to be one of the slowest means of connectivity alternative when high-speed connection isn’t available. Budget Dialup is one of the few services that have local access numbers in the U.S, Canada and across the globe. Their website showcases selective options to use one of the forms to search for an access number.

Also a twitter user has provided a French ISP FDN in the wake of Egyptians government's actions so that the people can get in touch with the world. (Individuals in Egypt without Internet access may use this number for dial up: +33172890150. Login: toto. Password: toto)

Another twitter user has provided an option through DSL, who wrote “@SultanAlQassemi DIAL-UP ISP IS WORKING. DSL still working#Egypt,Try their Dial up numbers (0777 7770),(0777 7000) SPREAD THE WORD #jan25.”

One other network is Tor. According to tech savvy, “a network of tunnels through which information and internet sites can be requested and passed back anonymously, and allowing users to access sites like Twitter, Facebook and Gmail even when they are blocked.” There are more options like SailMail: “The SailMail Association is a non-profit association of yacht owners that operates and maintains an email communications system for use by its members. SailMail email can be transferred via SailMail's own world-wide network of SSB-Pactor radio stations, or via satellite (Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar, Thuraya) or any other method of internet access (cellular networks, WiFi).”

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