Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

Summary: The Egyptian government may have cut its people's broadband connections to the Internet, but the people are finding other ways to connect to the world.

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When Egypt cut the Internet off for the vast majority of its citizens, the Egyptian government did a frighteningly good job of turning off the Internet. But, despite the government's efforts, in the days that have followed Egyptians are reaching out to each other and the world with a mix of old-fashioned dial-up modems and satellite Internet.

Make no mistake about it, the Egyptian government did what they intended to do: They've cut their people from using the modern broadband Internet. Using cobbled together technology, however, Egyptian Internet users has continued on.

Thanks to dial-up modems, some Egyptians are able to login to international modem pools outside the government's control. Internet activist groups like Werebuild and Telecomix are publishing lists of international modem-dial up numbers. While there are several Egyptian ISPs that offer dial-up,  these, at best, still keep their users locked in Egypt.  I'm told by sources in Egypt that these site often don't work even for connecting with other Egyptian sites.

Relatively few phone lines, however, can dial out of Egypt. Some voice mobile phone services--but not texting, aka Short Message Service (SMS) or data services--are back in operation in a few areas. This has opened the door to using mobile phones to dial into international dial-up modem pools. Once, there Egyptians can use Bluetooth-equipped phones to connect with computers for a cobbled-together modem Internet connection. Full instructions on how to do this can be found on this blog site.

In addition, a few well-off users have been able to connect to the Internet with satellite Internet services and phones from companies such as Thuraya, which appears to be the company that Al Jazeera uses to keep its continuous Egyptian news coverage up; Iridium; and Inmarsat. All these companies offer direct satellite Internet coverage as well as voice.

None of these solutions, even the modems, are cheap however. It costs Egyptians several dollars a minute just for a 28Kbps (Kilobits per second) dial-up connection.

In the meantime though Egypt's reigning government is staggering. Perhaps one of the first signs we'll see of it falling-if it falls-will be the restoration of Egypt to the full world-wide Internet. Just as the broadband Internet took only minutes for the government to take down, it may take little more time to bring it up again.

Topics: Mobility, Broadband, Browser, Government, Government US, Hardware, Networking

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37 comments
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  • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

    How is that a democratic government if it is cutting off the people from everything, communications and transportation. Why is the US paying their puppet 1.5 billion dollars a year.
    Julian, figure this out.
    Aboleyn
    • Why the US pays

      @Aboleyn Keeping Egypt happy keeps its Middle Eastern neighbors happy, and it keeps the petroleum coming.
      davidr69
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @davidr69 Yet the United States has one of the largest oil reserves in the world already.
        tec21
    • the Egyptians should thank US

      @Aboleyn
      for the internet and the American aid.
      It's now time that they show their good will and start dumping their muslim religion in favour of our Christian values.
      I agree with you about the money, they should go only to nations that respect our interests and embrace our moral values.
      Linux Geek
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @Linux Geek
        That comment is off base... Course we can all see where your moral values are.... the same place your brain is,
        gdrobins
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        I HAVE THE GREATEST RESPECT FOR ALLAH, BUT IF ALLAH SAID THAT PEOPLE FOLLOWING OTHER RELIGIONS ARE INFIDELS, THEN THE MUSLIM RELIGION SHOULD BE BANNED. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR THESE FANATICS AND RACISTS.
        wilmotmather
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @Linux Geek "Our" moral values ?!? Please don't assume to speak for me.
        grampadave
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @Linux Geek
        It's hard to tell if you are being ironic.
        There is a difference between a people and their government. I believe that the recipients of any aid *are* grateful for it. The problem with *government aid* is that it goes to a *government*
        Second, if you are not a Christian or a Muslim, you really don't have any authoritative insight to add regarding the relative value of their moral codes.
        Third, /irony It's obvious that we should only give money to nations that oppose our interests and despise our moral values. /irony off
        berriend
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @berriend
        As far as your /irony comment...
        If the USA did not give weapons and money to other countries, there would be no one who could stand against us in all of our "wars" for more than 30 days... We have to arm everyone else (through weapons and/or cash) so that we can have wars, else we will no longer elect presidents with military experience. And the military would be mighty upset if a pacifist was elected president...
        aiellenon
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @Linux Geek
        You talk like an unscientific man even though you claim yourself to be a linux geek. Shame on you!!!
        amishera
    • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

      @Aboleyn
      You must thank our past President Jimmy Carter for the money that we send to Egypt - it was part of the peace agreement that we send money to Egypt if they signed the treaty with Israel.
      Also reason why we have had a few hundred troops permanently stationed there along the border between the two nations.
      TAPhilo
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @aiellenon
        We arm our "friends" so they can defend *themselves*. (when we have intelligent government) That way we don't have to go to war. You seem to imply that the US is responsible for all the wars we have fought in. Not only that , we did it to elect military presidents... You, my friend, are suffering from delusion. Did we arm Hitler? Did we arm Japan? Did we arm Italy? Did we arm North Korea? Did we arm North Vietnam? We didn't start these wars, and only reluctantly engaged in any of them, when there was no alternative but to let the aggressors take whatever they wanted.
        In a perfect world, all the bad guys wear black. In the real world, sometimes "friends" become "enemies". Iran got weapons from us when the Shah ruled there, it's true. But things sometimes change. Our liberal president, Jimmuh Cartuh, gave that country to the imams. Look where that got them (and us). Do you claim we did that so we could elect George Bush? You are blind if you believe that.
        Are the German (and all the other European nations) people better off as a result of our intervention? Are the Japanese people better off as a result of our intervention? Remember these countries were our "enemies". Are the Iranian people better off today as a result of our non-intervention? Arguably not.
        Friends help friends. Weapons are not always bad. Sometimes evil must be resisted with force. Friends sometimes become enemies. Governments change. Grow up.
        berriend
    • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

      @Aboleyn Be aware! The Oboma administration is seeking legal authority to establish an internet "kill switch" to cut the internet during a supposed "nationwide cyber attack" which of course would only be used in such a case. Never used by government or its hidden or rogue parts as they choose. Not the USA. "I'm going to hook you up, grandma, for your safety and mine." "Shut up and get in the car!"
      frankerin
    • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

      @Aboleyn Where did you get the idea that Egypt has anything remotely resembling a democracy ?
      grampadave
    • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

      THERE HAS BEEN NO DEMOCRACY IN EGYPT FOR MANY YEARS. A PRESIDENT IN POWER FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS ? WHAT THE ? THE US IS NOTORIOUS FOR SETTING UP EVIL REGIMES IN CERTAIN COUNTRIES---MARCOS IN THE PHILLIPINES, SHAH IN IRAN, PAPA DOC IN HAITI JUST TO NAME A FEW. IS THIS THE DEMOCRACY THAT THE US IS TALKING ABOUT ? ONE SHOULD NOT FORGET THE CONTINUATION OF THE KILLINGS OF CIVILIANS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ ALL IN THE NAME OF CRUSHING TERRORISTS. THESE AMERICAN TERRORISTS WILL LEARN THAT IRAQ WILL BE THEIR VIETNAM IN THE MIDDLE EAST. IT SEEMS THAT THEY WILL NEVER LEARN FROM THEIR TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE FROM VIETNAM.
      wilmotmather
      • Caps lock

        @wilmotmather@...
        Your caps lock is stuck. Very rude. Come back when you learn about the protocols.
        BigJohnLg
      • Very well stated

        You state your position thoughfully and well. For those more anally oriented on this board, possible a mix of CAPS and regular text will allow them to see through the formatting to the message. Keep posting!
        Flytdeck
      • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

        @wilmotmather@... <br><br>Actually, I personally think that a president should be in office for 9 years with up to 3 re-elections, it is very hard to be president in the USA, because you spend the first 18 months dealing with what the last president left you (sometimes more = Iraq/Afghanistan) then the next 18-24 months trying to get congress to do something in your name that will hopefully get you re-elected, but before you can finish that, you have go back out and campaign... as if no one knows who you are or what you have been doing... Oh and the whole time they are trying to get the rest of the world's leaders to like them also.<br><br>If they were in office for a 9 year stretch they could deal with the legacy the last president left them, and actually do something without worrying about elections, maybe even see a budget plan to fruition!! It would take a change like this for the USA to continue to evolve. Right now as a country we are and have been stagnant and stuck responding to the actions of other countries who have had the same leader for many years, while we deal with internal political backstabbing and disorganization. Why would we willingly force this type of system on another country without modification?
        aiellenon
    • RE: Without broadband, the Internet in Egypt

      That is not so great when you think about how many interesting things you can find online.I download a <a href="http://www.trendmicro.com.au/">internet security</a> software a few days ago and everything was for free.I can't imagine how would internet be without access to the whole wide web.
      Aramel
  • Once again the tech-heads

    try to justify their technology by saying "look how it supports democracy", whilst ignoring the huge, undemocratic concentration of power that modern communications technology really is. Hopefully, the fact that Egypt can just 'chop-off' communications is a demonstration of just how perilous an idea it is that the Internet and democracy are in any way equals.
    Celebrating the way just a few people can circumvent technological censorship basically ignores 'the elephant in the room'.
    Democracy is a philosophy, an idea. The Internet is just a machine.
    Why does US pay Egypt so much money? It is a deal or pay-off for being neutral towards Israel. However, because the US overlooked Egypt's corruption (although Egypt has long suffered at the hands of the West, being the first non-Western nation to suffer at the hands of 'free-traders' in the mid 1800's), the rise of the "Muslim Brotherhood" has taken place in recent times. Many religions seek to proselytize by assisting the poor. The Christian Church also does this. The Muslim Brotherhood is no different. Watch this space - if the MB does become democratically elected to power, we will see the 'failed state' epithet applied to Egypt, the CIA will cause unrest (just like in Allende's Chile) and yet more misery will be unleashed on the world. The poor vote for those that help them - the US has failed to understand this, by giving big $ to governments and regimes, rather than by learning what is really needed, as exemplified by the engineer 'Atkins' in "The Ugly American".
    Mahegan