How To Help Egypt Get Online
share this story
Renesys estimated that 93% of Egypt's networks were still unavailable Friday evening (EST).
With the country's citizens unable to log on to the Internet as they normally would, people have turned to a variety of other means to get online, including using ham radios, fax machines, and landline phones.
We've compiled a list of the ways people in Egypt can attempt to access the Internet if their service has been interrupted. Have other suggestions? Email us tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) Get online using the Noor Group's network
Resnesys reports that one ISP, Noor Group, appears not to have been shut down by the government. "One of the very few exceptions to this block has been Noor Group (AS20928), which still has 83 out of 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers, with inbound transit from Telecom Italia as usual," writes Resnesys. The ISP commands around 8% of the market, according to a researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and is the network that services the Egyptian Stock Exchange.
2) Use dial-up--with modems or with mobile phones
"Egyptians with dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they call into their local ISP, but calling an international number to reach a modem in another country gives them a connection to the outside world," explains ComputerWorld.
Various web pages have been set up instructing users that have access to a modem and international calling service how to connect to the Internet via dial-up. Twitter is full of tweets providing Egypt with international dial-up numbers that can be used to connect to a network. The French Data Network , for example, has set up a number ("+33 1 72 89 01 50 (login: toto, password: toto)") to be used by people in Egypt. More are available here.
Manalaa.net has step-by-step instructions for getting online using just a mobile phone and international ISP. "Since most of our homes back in Egypt have no international phone-call capability we will by-pass this by linking to the mobile-phone network which is by default has international capability but unfortunately a little pricey (~2 LE a minute) but sufficient to make urgent communication on internet," Manalaa.net explains.
Tor advises users to take precautions when connecting via dial-up. "While on the face this seems safe and it may very well be safer than a known filtered or probably wiretapped network, it's certainly not outside of the capabilities of the Egyptian authorities to decode or analyse these kinds of communications," writes Tor. "We urge people who are using dial up systems or leased lines, VSAT or even BGAN connections to be cautious. The nature of any internet connection has a variable difficulty for monitoring but it is by no means impossible."
One option is to use a Tor client that relays a user's traffic through several different networks to protect that user's physical location, as well as the nature of their activities online (more information here).
3) Use ham radio
It's low-tech--but that's exactly why it works. We Rebuild has a website detailing how users can use ham radio to communicate. Telecomix and German Piraten Partei also have more details.
"Ham radio activists are receiving signals in morse code from Egypt. When countries block web, we evolve" We Rebuild wrote.
Learn more about how people have been bypassing the Internet shutdown to get online in the slideshow below. Click here for the latest news from Egypt.
UPDATE: Anonymous has created a list of "20 Ways to Circumvent the Egyptians Government's [sic] Internet Block."
UPDATE II: Google has launched a speak-to-tweet service in collaboration with Twitter and SayNow that allows users to tweet using voicemail. Find out more here.