Foreign Policy

Internet Down: You Can Help Egyptians Reconnect

| by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence


Early Friday morning, the Egyptian government cut the internet and cell service to the entire country. Above is an amazing graph of how suddenly traffic ground to a halt. As the AP reports:

Renesys’ network sensors showed that Egypt’s four primary Internet providers – Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr – and all went dark at 12:34 a.m. Those companies shuttle all Internet traffic into and out of Egypt, though many people get their service through additional local providers with different names.

This means that proxies, which are often used to subvert censorship, will not work. While the internet still not back up, there is at least one way that Egyptians can still connect. As Lifehacker explains:

Unless the Egyptian government kills all of the phone lines as well, you might remember one means of getting online that broadband has since relegated to obsolescence: dial-up. While there’s no Egyptian ISP that will allow internet access to Egyptian citizens, other countries will, meaning any Egyptian citizen with long-distance calling capabilities can break out their old school 56k modem and dial-up an ISP in another country. (Sure it’s going to be a slow connection, but you can survive.)

The blog has a helpful list of way that you can help Egyptians connect both to the internet and through other mediums. Here’s an excerpt:

2. Help Egyptians to dial up. You can help to distribute the phone numbers and login information for dial-up Internet services in other countries. An organization called Telecomix News Agency is providing dial up modem service to Egyptians, with the number +46850009990 – you can offer to provide your own modem service – to that go to the chat room, sign in with a nickname, and ask how you can help. Also, the dial ups at this site are constantly being updated.

3. Get involved in the effort to increase communication between Egyptians and the world using ham radios. As long as it stays difficult for Egyptians to get information out – and especially government’s crackdown grows more violent – it’s worth looking into use of ham radios for communication between people in and outside the country. So far, some ham afficionados have been creating communications channels between Egypt and the rest of the world using the ham networks – Egyptians are sending morse code signals to the ham radios, its getting decoded, and posted on the internet.  The best way to see if you can help is to dip into the Twitter stream and @ reply to someone there, but you can also check out the chat room.


You can also visit Access’ web site and sign their petition pressuring mobile providers Vodaphone and Orange France to open the Egyptian networks. Also, for more resources and security tips, check out this wiki, and go ahead and follow Jacob Appelbaum on Twitter — from organizing getting sat phones to Egyptians, to ham radios, to Tor to dial up, he’s serving as a one main internet relief organization.