Egypt Loses the Internet

By: Craig Labovitz -

Updated January 31: Added graph and discussion of remaining active paths

Following a week of growing protests and periodic telecommunication disruption, Egypt suddenly lost all Internet connectivity at approximately 5:20pm EST Thursday.

The below graph shows traffic to and from Egypt based on ATLAS data from 80 providers around the world.

Between 3 and 5pm EST, Egyptian traffic rapidly climbed to several Gigabits. At 5:20pm, the all Egyptian transit providers abruptly withdrew the major of Egypt’s several thousand BGP routes and traffic dropped to a handful of megabits per second.

At present, the cause of the outage is unknown though many press reports have drawn parallels to the Internet outages following Iranian political protests during the summer of 2009. Further, the simultaneous failure of Internet across multiple different Egyptian ISPs and diverse physical paths (i.e. satellite, fiber optic, etc) suggests this was a coordinated event rather than a natural failure. Typically, telecommunication companies operate under strict regulatory control in many countries around the world.

As of Monday (January 31), Egypt remains disconnected from the Internet. A week view of traffic in and out of Egypt below.

Normally, Egypt enjoys one of the largest and most robust Internet infrastructures in Africa with a dozen major providers, more than 30% consumer penetration, and multiple high-speed paths to Europe and the rest of the world. Egypt also serves as a major terrestrial fiber optic crossing point for traffic to other countries in Africa and the Middle East. Traffic to other countries using these links through Egypt has not been impacted.

While the Egyptian telecommunication market has enjoyed significant liberalization in the last decade, the Egyptian government Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) continues to assert a strong level of regulatory control over the telecom licensees. See http://www.tra.gov.eg for more information (although the TRA web site is currently unreachable outside Egypt).

Comments

  1. What is that graphic? 01/29/2011, 10:43 am

    Interesting graphic, please fire the graphic designer who thought it was a good idea to put tiny white text over a light lime green – COMPLETELY UNREADABLE. Great job.