Late last week, nearly all of Egypt’s 20 million Internet users were cut off when the 4 major ISPs in the country, including two multinationals Vodafone and Etisalat, severed their international network connections. At 9pm BST last night, the only remaining ISP of notable size, the Noor Group, also went offline; it is thought that it was previously kept running in order to keep the Egyptian stock exchange active, which is now either very slow or unreachable.
Reports from inside Egypt say that SMS functionality has been restored to the mobile phone networks, but with almost no active ISPs getting information out has proved difficult. Major broadcasters continue to operate in the country using their own satellite systems, with the exception of Al-Jazeera. Officially the company has had its broadcast license removed and its Arabic and English television channels are no longer available in the country; unofficially its journalists are continuing to provide video reports, blogs and tweets from on the ground.
Developers and companies from all over the world have been attempting to help Egyptians regain communication with the outside world. Italian ISP Telecom Italia has provided a free dial up internet line Egyptians can use over the working landline network to connect to the Internet. On Monday, a team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow announced the availability of 3 phone lines that use SayNow and Google’s voice to text technology to convert Egyptian’s messages delivered by phone into tweets which are then sent out of a dedicated Twitter account.
Despite the Egyptian government’s best efforts to quell the voice of their people internationally, the efforts of Egyptians on the ground, international technology companies and users the world over have been able to provide at least a small voice for the Egyptian people to make their opinion known.