Kill switch in Egypt

Posted on February 2, 2011  /  1 Comments

I never expected an economy as advanced as that of Egypt to shut down the Internet. But it did. Not completely, as shown by the Figure in the Wired article that I have taken the excerpt below from.

Egypt’s largest ISPs shut off their networks Thursday, making it impossible for traffic to get to websites hosted in Egypt or for Egyptians to use e-mail, Twitter or Facebook. The regime of President Hosni Mubarak also ordered the shut down of mobile phone networks, including one run by the U.K.-based Vodafone, all in an attempt to undermine the growing protests over Mubarak’s autocratic rule of the country.

While the world has seen net filtering and disruption in places like Burma and Iran following social and political unrests, Egypt’s decision to shutter it is different, according to Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist at Arbor Networks, a computer security firm that has nearly unequaled real data on international internet traffic.

“What’s different with Egypt is the scale,” Labovitz told “By that I mean that Egypt has fairly significant internet infrastructure with a diversity of paths — satellite, microwave and fiber links — a number of large providers and hundreds of smaller providers. It is one of the more significant internet infrastructures in the Middle East and certainly within Africa. Egypt has a very well-developed economy with a significant reliance on the internet, this is very different from Burma.”

So how did Egypt shut down the net? Did someone in the government hit a giant stop button?

How is it done? What are the ramifications? These are the questions we will be pondering, in addition to the fate for Mobarak.

1 Comment

  1. One estimate of the strict economic cost has emerged today:
    “Blocking Internet cost Egypt at least $90M, says OECD
    Daily losses from the blockade ran at about $18M”

    The Egyptian government’s five-day block of Internet services cost the national economy at least $90 million, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Thursday.

    The Paris-based organization said telecommunications and Internet services account for between 3% and 4% of Egypt’s GDP, so the daily loss amounted to around $18 million.

    The Internet block was lifted on Wednesday, but it might be much longer before the true cost of the government’s action on the economy is known.

    Full story: