In an attempt to deal with their in-country civil unrest the Egyptian authorities have pretty much pulled the plug on all internet connectivity last week, but that’s stopped the more resourceful types getting online.
Following an order of the existing ruling regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to close down ISPs in the country, only one Internet service provider remains in operation. The Noor Group used to have 8% of the market in Egypt and looks set to remain up as it also hosts the Egyptian Stock Exchange – vital even in times of social crisis.
Yet, that sort of tactic has only inspired many of the opposition activists it sought to defeat. We Rebuild are just one of a number of ‘underground’ groups trying to keep Egyptians connected to the outside world. In most cases that has meant a move back to older technology, landline telephones, fax machines and ham radios have been dusted down and put into operation.
The ISP take-down means that even dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they try to call local ISP. Calling an international number however is not barred so groups like We Re-Build are turning to that. A dial-up phone number has been set-up in Sweden and it is working on other international numbers for Egyptians to call, while ensuring the word is out there via it’s wiki page.Some but not all mobile phone services have been cut, so instructions on how to tether mobile phones up as modems have been changing hands rapidly as Egyptians clamber to stay online.
While the disturbances are worrying for those involved it is good to see that many – including the ruling government – consider the internet to be an integral part of modern society. Let’s hope it also plays a part in ensuring that an acceptable level of civility is promptly restored to the same society.