Washington Post refers to Doug Madory as, “The man who can see the Internet.” Unsurprisingly he has been monitoring Nepal’s state of Internet since earthquake struck on April 25. Outages of Nepalese data centers, ISPs and enterprises have been graphically diagnosed in Doug’s report.
A recent evaluation of Internet infrastructure in South Asia commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) classified Nepal’s international connectivity as ‘weak’ and its fixed and mobile infrastructure as ‘limited’.
While the loss of Internet connectivity pales in comparison to the loss of life, the ability to communicate both domestically and internationally will be crucial in coming days for the coordination of relief efforts already underway. Innovative services from Facebook and Google to facilitate communicating the status of those affected by the massive earthquake would be largely useless if Nepal had been knocked entirely offline. In fact, Nepal’s international links generally survived the earthquake, however last mile connectivity is another matter.
Doug Madory also refers to LIRNEasia’s recommendation of Nepal’s route diversity via China along the Asian Highway.
Nepal, as well as Bhutan, are both South Asian landlocked countries wedged between India and China that are dependent on India for a number of services including telecommunications. As a result, each country has been courting Chinese engagement that would provide a redundant source of Internet connectivity. Nepal has been seeking Internet connectivity through China for some time, however, as of today, we have yet to observe any Internet paths linking Nepal to the global Internet via China.
As stated above, Nepal’s international Internet links through India have so far stayed up through the earthquake and its aftermath. The degradation of Internet services in Nepal was primarily due to significant damage in the last mile of infrastructure. Had the international links to India gone down as well, then establishing redundant links to China would undoubtedly be at the forefront of present discussions about the resiliency of the Nepali Internet – not to mention stoking the rivalry between India and China for influence in Nepal. In this case, international connectivity matters little if people can’t connect to their local service provider.
Read Doug Madory’s full report here.